China Revokes Visa of Olympian Darfur Activist

Speedskater Joey Cheek leads team for peace in Sudan
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 6, 2008 8:56 AM CDT
Joey Cheek, co-founder and president of Team Darfur, speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, Tuesday, July 1, 2008.    (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Hours before he was due to leave for Beijing today, US gold-medalist and Darfur activist Joey Cheek got a call from Chinese authorities revoking his visa, the Boston Globe reports. A retired speedskater, Cheek is the founder of Team Darfur, a global group of athletes devoted to bringing peace to the area of Sudan torn by violence. He was headed to China as a human rights activist.

Known for downplaying his athletic accomplishments—"I skate around in tights; it's not that big a deal"—Cheek donated his winnings from Olympic gold and silver medals—$40,000—to the Darfur cause. The Princeton sophomore tells the Globe he feels strongly that athletes should be encouraged to speak their minds; it angers him that some are being hushed by their home countries.