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Convicted child rapist to represent Dutch Olympic beach volleyball team: ‘An exemplary professional’

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Steven van de Velde will represent the Netherlands in the Olympics next month, eight years after being convicted of raping a 12-year-old.

In 2014 and less than a week before his 19th birthday, Van de Velde flew to England to meet the victim, where he raped her after giving her alcohol. He first met the victim on Facebook.

He was sentenced to four years in prison two years later but was released after just one year. He is a registered sex offender in the U.K. for the rest of his life, and the victim has since self-harmed and once overdosed.

“I cannot reverse it, so I will have to bear the consequences. It has been the biggest mistake of my life,” he said in 2018.

He returned to competing in international competitions shortly after his release from prison in 2017. Now, the Dutch volleyball federation, Nevobo, says van de Velde “meets all the qualification requirements for the Olympic Games and is therefore part of the team.”

“He was convicted at the time according to English law, and he has served his sentence. From then on, we have been in constant contact with Steven, who has now been fully reintegrated into the Dutch volleyball community,” Nevobo said in a statement. 

“He is proving to be an exemplary professional and human being, and there has been no reason to doubt him since his return. We fully support him and his participation in Paris, which he and [teammate] Matthew [Immers] have earned.” 

Van De Velde on court

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“Already since 2017, Steven van de Velde — after an intensive professionally supervised process with, among others, the probation service — is once again participating in international beach volleyball tournaments,” the Dutch Olympic committee, NOC*NSF, said in its own statement. 

“At the time, the considerations and conditions for return to top-level sports were determined by both Nevobo and NOC*NSF partly on the basis of the Guideline Integrity History of NOC*NSF, which sets out, among other things, the conditions under which athletes in top-level sports can return after a conviction.”

It should be noted that the Dutch are not sending several golfers who qualified for Paris after their Olympic committee said their world rankings suggest they would not have a realistic chance to compete. 

The Netherlands Golf Federation said in a statement Tuesday it presented “extensive arguments and data” in a June 14 meeting with the Dutch committee, hopeful of showing unique differences in golf compared with other sports.

Van De Velde waving

“According to them, it has not been demonstrated that there is a reasonable chance of a top-eight ranking during the Olympic Games,” the statement said. 

The Netherlands’ best finish in men’s beach volleyball at the Olympics was a bronze medal in 2016.

Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.

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