The controversy with Eileen Gu


@eileen_gu_ on Instagram

A picture of Eileen Gu while skiing.

Back in 2019, skier Eileen Gu made the ultimate decision to change her sports allegiance from the U.S. to China. Now in the 2022 Winter Olympics, 18-year-old Eileen is slapped with opinions on this choice from every direction. 

The controversy is that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) states that any competitor in the Olympic Games must be a citizen of the country they represent or enter the Olympic Games for; however, China has an issue with this as it does not favor citizens having dual citizenship—in fact, China forbids citizenship to any country other than its own. That being said, Eileen is going against what China believes and facing a lot of backlash for it. This decision raises the question of whether or not Eileen gave up her American passport for a Chinese one. 

Eileen’s mother is Chinese, and her father is American. So why would she want to represent China if she was born and raised in America? 

The answer is that Eileen shouldn’t have to pick sides in an event like this; she made a choice, and out of respect to her mother, she chose to inspire the millions of young people that live where her mother was born—that is the influence behind her switch of allegiances. She never asked for the opinions of others or the discussion around her pursuing her interest in representing China over the U.S.. 

She never asked for the opinions from others or the discussion around her pursuing her interest in representing China over the U.S. ”

There is never one side to a conflict like this. The US wants one thing from Eileen, and China wants the same thing. China’s overall impression of the whole situation is that it will keep Eileen loyal to China as she is now in the eyes of the millions of Chinese citizens watching her hold her career in China’s hands. According to some, her choice was thought to be ungrateful or disloyal to both countries. 

China has since been able to warm to the idea that athletes should be able to pick and choose without a push or pull of what they represent as a person and a leader in the eyes of others, especially in the Olympics. What Eileen offers to China is much more than they could ever ask for as she has become the face of many brands and a symbol of pride to the country; China fears Eileen has been given more praise and credit than she deserves. They are uncertain if she will continue to associate with China in the future. As for the U.S., there have been many Chinese Americans sharing frustration at the fact that Eileen might be being forced to change her sides in the Olympics. 

As someone who is an athlete myself, I would never want people telling me what country I can represent. For Eileen, there should be a choice. She should be able to do whatever she wants under the rules that she believes are right. There is no right and wrong, but within geopolitics, there always has to be. Although she may be a young adult, there should be no altering an athlete’s decision.