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American Hockey Players Set to Represent China Against US While Using Fake Names

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For many athletes, playing in the Olympics has been a dream since childhood. And some North American athletes were willing to shun their own countries in order to achieve that dream.

According to NBC Sports, 18 of the 25 players on the roster for China’s men’s hockey team during the 2022 Beijing Olympics were either born or raised in North America.

One of those players is Jake Chelios, a player for the Beijing-centered Kunlun Red Star in the Kontinental Hockey League. He grew up watching his father and NHL Hall of Famer Chris Chelios in the Olympics, where he reached the 2002 Olympic final in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Twenty years later, Jake Chelios will also be representing a host country in the Olympics. But instead of playing for the United States like his father, the Chicago-born player will be playing for communist China.

“I think half the family was a little confused of what was going on at first, but now they’re starting to understand how special it is,” Chelios said, according to NBC.

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The 30-year-old Chelios said since he has lived in Beijing for about 10 percent of his life, he feels like he is a part of the Chinese culture.

“Since we’ve been over here for three years, whatever it is, you do start to feel a closeness to China,” he said. “We’ve been eating Chinese food, we’ve been living the Chinese culture, so there’s a certain closeness you start to feel with China, and you start to feel like you’re actually going to represent them, and you want to win for them.”

According to Firstpost, some North American players are going by fake names “to aid Chinese fans with pronunciation.” Chelios will go by “Jieke Kailiaosi.”

Despite the new name and newfound identity in China, Chelios said he has made no attempt to even learn the language.

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“I know two or three words (of Chinese),” he said according to Firstpost. “I took six years of Spanish in high school, and I could not learn that, so I did not even try (with Chinese).”

In addition to some U.S.-born players, many of the men on the Chinese team were born in Canada. One of those players is Tyler Wong, a teammate of Chelios on the Red Star.

“We’ve been playing with Kunlun for a few years now, so it’s all been leading up to this,” Wong said according to NBC. “We’re just trying to stay focused and get ready for the tournament.”

After the NHL announced its decision not to stop its season to allow players to go to the Olympics, the Chinese team gained more confidence.

“It’s a lot more realistic to do some damage for us,” Chelios said of the team’s new outlook. “We want to challenge the teams and earn some respect for China.”

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China was drawn in a group with Canada, the United States and Germany, Firstpost reported. That means players of both American and Canadian heritage will have to play against their real home countries.

According to Reuters, this phenomenon is not exclusive to men’s hockey. Hannah Miller, a Candian-born women’s hockey player who represented Canada as an under-18 player, is now competing for China under the name of Mi Le.

She scored the lone goal for China in their 3-1 loss to the Czech Republic on Thursday, but head coach Brian Idalski refused to answer a reporter’s question about her heritage after the game, Reuters reported.

The Chinese men’s team opens its Olympic play on Feb. 10 against the U.S., Reuters reported. Chelios and his American teammates will be competing against the red, white and blue right out of the gate.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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