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American speed skater Joey Cheek has done a great deal to bring global attention to the immense suffering of the people of Darfur, forming Team Darfur and even going so far as donating his $40k Olympic bonus to the cause in 2006. Unfortunately, the gold and silver medalist was punished for his activism by the Chinese government -- who has contributed to the genocide in Darfur by fueling and supporting Sudan's murderous military government -- when they revoked his visa this week, preventing him from attending this year's Olympics in Beijing.
During the opening ceremony NBC's Bob Costas discussed the controversy surrounding Cheek and the Chinese government, noting that he made it clear he would not protest the Chinese government during the Olympics:
Costas: "Joey Cheek had planned to invoke the Olympic truce, the time-honored concept of an Olympic truce, to call attention to the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. He did not intend to directly protest the Chinese government. The fact that they pulled his visa is so contrary to the Olympic ideal it is simply outrageous."
I wondered if NBC was going to cave on this or take a stand and defend Cheek against the reprehensible actions of the Chinese government. I applaud Costas for choosing the latter.