Dutch athlete, convicted of rape, will participate in the Olympic Games

A photo of volleyball player Steven van de Velde from the Netherlands.

TLAXCALA, MEXICO – OCTOBER 11: Steven van de Velde of the Netherlands during Day 6 of the Beach World Champions Tlaxcala 2023 at Tlaxcala Plaza de Toros on October 11, 2023 in Tlaxcala, Mexico. (Photo by Pablo Morano/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — Beach volleyball player Steven van de Velde, who was charged and convicted of raping a child, will represent the Netherlands at the Olympics next month, according to the BBC.

Van de Velde, 29, admitted raping a 12-year-old girl from Britain in 2014. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 2016, but was released after a year.

After his release, he resumed his career and has since qualified for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The Dutch Olympic Committee has not prevented Van de Velde from participating in the July Olympic Games, the BBC reports.

“After his release, Van de Velde sought and received professional guidance. He demonstrated to those around him – privately and professionally – self-understanding and reflection,” the committee told BBC Sport.

It also told BBC Sport that Van de Velde has met “all the qualification criteria for the Olympic Games”. He will compete with his partner, Matthew Immers.

The 29-year-old has previously spoken about his crime in the Dutch media, according to the British outlet.

“I can’t undo it, so I’ll have to suffer the consequences. It was the biggest mistake of my life,” he said.

Van de Velde issued a statement to BBC Sport through the Dutch Olympic Committee.

“Also in 2016 and afterwards, various Dutch media paid attention to the story. I understand that this can attract the attention of the international media in the run-up to the largest sporting event in the world,” he said.