Luger Natalie Geisenberger, 34, won one individual and one team relay gold medal at the Winter Olympics. She has now returned to Germany and appeared in an interview on February 16 on the German TV channel “Markus Lanz.”
In the interview, she not only spoke of her joy at winning the Olympics gold but once again expressed her disappointment at the IOC allowing China to host the Olympics. She admitted that she often feels helpless as an athlete in such situations.
She said she was shocked by what had happened in the previous three weeks of Beijing’s Luge World Cup competition. The athletes had to be quarantined despite testing negative. They were allowed out of the room only during the training period and had anxiety about food. She also once observed a case during a bus ride when athletes were not allowed to go to the bathroom for several hours.
Geisenberg said: “After the experiences I had there at the World Cup, I thought for a long time whether I really had to go there.”
Ultimately, she still decided to go.
She said: “It would just be a different name on the leaderboard.”
And she added: “Okay, I’ll do it, I’ll go there for two weeks, do my job – then I’ll go home and never go to China again.”
During the show, Geisenberg was asked about Beijing’s arrangement for an Uyghur athlete to light the torch. She said, “We are athletes, not politicians.”
She said that athletes try not to pay too much attention to such matters before the competition to avoid distractions.
“We want to do our job well and that’s why the overall situation is particularly difficult for us.”
Geisenberg said the Beijing Winter Olympics organizing committee had placed all athletes in a “protective bubble” from the outside world, with no access to the daily Chinese people. Upon arrival at the airport, the athletes were greeted with a giant fence, and all contacts with people from the outside world were eliminated.
In a press conference after she won the individual gold medal, reporters asked her if she was surprised that no questions about human rights in China had been raised since the Olympics began. Geisenberg replied that there was a question of what time is suitable to talk about it. She said:
“You have to be careful when you say what and where you say it. Upon my return (to Germany) there may be a few more things to be said but here on site I am not going to say something.”