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Quentin Batalillon

General News 2024

Volleyball player convicted of Olympic rape kits

A beach volleyball player convicted of raping a 12-year-old British girl will represent the Netherlands at the Olympic Games in Paris.

Steven van de Velde, now 29, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2016 after admitting to raping a child three times in August 2014.

Van de Velde, who met his victim on Facebook, traveled from Amsterdam to Britain and raped the girl at an address in Milton Keynes.

He was allowed to serve his sentence in the Netherlands, but was released after just twelve months.

Van de Velde then resumed his volleyball career and has been participating in international tournaments since 2018 “after an intensive, professionally supervised process”, according to the Dutch Olympic Committee, NOC.

He has qualified for the Olympic Games in his national pair with partner Matthew Immers.

The Netherlands Olympic Committee, NOC, told BBC Sport: “After his release, Van de Velde sought and received professional guidance. He demonstrated to those around him – privately and professionally – self-awareness and reflection.”

According to the NOC, Van de Velde’s return to the sport complies with the guidelines drawn up by the Dutch Volleyball Association NeVoBo in the organization’s ‘Integrity File Guidelines’. It sets out the conditions under which athletes may participate again in sport after a conviction.

It says he has met “all qualifying criteria for the Olympic Games.”

In interviews with Dutch media, Van de Velde previously said: “I cannot reverse it, so I will have to bear the consequences. It was the biggest mistake of my life.”

In a statement from the NOC, Van de Velde says: “Several Dutch media also paid attention to the story in 2016 and afterwards. I understand that this could attract the attention of international media in the run-up to the biggest sporting event in the world.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Dutch Volleyball Association and the International Volleyball Association have been asked for comment.