Eileen Gu, a U.S.-born and raised ski star who (in)famously competed for China during the Beijing Winter Olympics, is drawing heat from critics yet again — this time for promoting America's bid for hosting the Winter Games.
What are the details?
The 18-year-old skiing sensation has signed on to serve as an "athlete representative" for Salt Lake City, Utah's 2030 or 2034 bid for hosting the Olympics, the Associated Press confirmed on Tuesday. Gu earlier announced her participation at the Time100 Summit, calling herself an "ambassador" for the U.S. bid.
"I think that’s this beautiful example of globalism and of the capacity that we can use skiing and we can use sport and we can use winter sport to connect people," she told Time's senior sports correspondent, Sean Gregory at the New York City event.
"Salt Lake specifically wants to become a global destination for athletes everywhere to come train there and they want to incorporate 15 new countries into the Winter Olympics. I think that’s something that’s really beautiful and I’ve always stood for that and so I’m really honored to be a part of the whole thing," she added.
China's Eileen Gu To Serve As Ambassador For United States Olympic Bidwww.youtube.com
The ski star — who grew up in California and plans to attend Stanford University in the fall — seemed utterly enthused as she made the announcement, though she declined to divulge which country she would compete for in forthcoming Games.
What has been the response?
Not everyone shared her enthusiasm, however.
According to Vice and the AP, commenters had mixed reactions on Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter, where news of Gu's ambassadorship started trending widely.
Some reportedly pointed out that this is not the first time Chinese athletes have supported other countries’ bids and argued it is evidence of Gu's global influence. But others were less understanding. They criticized the teen for what they viewed as opportunism and divided loyalties.
"With this attitude of playing both sides, she is better off as a politician," one commenter chided, according to Vice.
Mark Dreyer, founder of the news site China Sports Insider, told the outlet, "There’s certainly a growing percentage of people who see her as an American that is coming to China for the money. This confirms their suspicions."
What's the background?
Gu has been slammed for her apparent opportunism before, especially after reports surfaced indicating the global athlete and model raked in eye-popping amounts of cash in endorsements during the Winter Games, a majority of from Chinese companies.
Yahoo Sports reported at the time that Gu was "laughing all the way to the bank" amid scrutiny over her allegiance-switching. The skier allegedly pulled in some $42 million in sponsorship and endorsement deals, with at least $31 million of that from more than 20 deals with Chinese companies.
All the while, Gu stayed mum about her citizenship situation, refusing to disclose whether or not she traded out her American passport for a Chinese one since China does not allow dual citizenship.
The athlete has repeatedly dodged questions on the matter, saying only that she feels American when she's in America and Chinese when she's in China.