Written by 00:52 World

Dutch Olympic Organizers Defend Participation of Athlete Convicted of Rape

The Dutch Volleyball Association and Dutch Olympic organizers are standing by their decision to send a man convicted of rape to the Paris Olympics this summer to represent the Netherlands in beach volleyball.

In 2014, the man, Steven van de Velde, now 29, traveled to England, where he raped a 12-year-old girl whom he had met on Facebook. A British court sentenced him in 2016 to four years in prison. After a year, he was transferred to the Netherlands, where his sentence was adjusted based on Dutch law. In total, Mr. van de Velde spent just over a year in prison.

Afterward, he received professional counseling, the volleyball association said.

The Dutch Olympic Committee and the Dutch Volleyball Association are allowing Mr. van de Velde to compete based on the advice of experts who they say have deemed the chance of a repeat offense very low, according to the association’s website. Mr. van de Velde resumed his beach volleyball career in 2017.

While international news media covered his Olympic participation with a sense of outrage, the story did not gain much traction in the Netherlands. Dutch news outlets largely reported on international media and how they covered the case.

“Particularly abroad, there was reason to rekindle the past of the 29-year-old beach volleyball player,” the volleyball association wrote in a statement on its website.

Sara Alaoui, the founder and director of the Safe Space Club, a nonprofit organization that works with victims of sexual abuse, said she was surprised at the lack of attention on this story compared with other, less consequential, sports news. (For example, Dutch news media covered the soccer player Memphis Depay wearing a headband during a recent match.)


Last modified: 30 June 2024