Gold Medalist Barred by China
As in any country, Chinese officials don't necessarily need a reason to revoke anyone's visa, although it could not be denied that they had several reasons to seize Cheek's.
He is, after all, the founder of Team Darfur, which is a group of 70 athletes who aims to raise global awareness of the human-rights violations in the Darfur region of Sudan. China's military, economic, and diplomatic ties to Sudan have been well-publicized in the lead-up to the Olympic Games.
Cheek, in a prepared statement, said of his ban from China: "I am saddened not to be able to attend the Games. The Olympic Games represent something powerful: that people can come together from around the world and do things that no one thought were possible. However, the denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur."
The speedskating champ planned to go to China to support the athletes on Team Darfur and to promote the cause. After winning gold in the Torino Games, Cheek announced he was donating his $25,000 USOC bonus to Darfur and beseeched his sponsors to follow suit.
Despite recurrent promises to clean up their act by the time the Olympics would arrive, the Chinese government has decided to show the world it's reluctance to permit any dissension on their land. Thus, making everyone else wonder why the Olympic community allowed the Games to be held in China in the first place.