First British player to have a career in the NBA becomes Olympic Ambassador for Human Rights

JOHN AMAECHI, London 2012 Bid ambassador, speaks out against China’s human rights record and calls for Olympians to follow suit

John Amaechi, the first British player to have a career in the elite American basketball league the NBA, today became an Olympic ambassador for Amnesty International.

Amaechi, who will be in Beijing for the Olympics, said:

“I welcome the opportunity to work with Amnesty International and invite others in the sports community to join me in giving voice to the millions who remain oppressed in China.

“As we celebrate the pride of our Olympians, let us not ignore those who are executed, tortured and ill-treated as they fight for their freedom of expression and fight against the restrictions placed upon them as individual people by their own government.

“Those with influence must not sit by idly as atrocities are committed by the powerful towards the oppressed.

“Let us join together in giving voice to the people of China until they can speak without reprisal for themselves.”

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, added:

“Amnesty International is delighted that John Amaechi has chosen to work with us. We hope that John’s involvement will help encourage fellow sportsmen, the Olympic authorities and the thousands of press due to descend on the Games to take a closer look at the appalling human rights record of the Chinese authorities.

“It is only through public scrutiny that we can hope to achieve a lasting legacy of human rights for the people of China.”

Background:
- John Amaechi played 301 times in the NBA during 1995 to 2004.
- Amaechi played in the England team that won bronze in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne
- Amaechi is also only the sixth professional athlete from the four major American sports to come out as gay, and the first in the NBA.
- Amaechi was made an ambassador for the London 2012 Bid in 2004.

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