Shame and Indignation in China as Its Olympians Come Under Fire
It is not surprising that the Chinese would feel very humiliated and angered at the accusations as also the manner its badminton team's chutzpah! Shame and Indignation in China as Its Olympians Come Under Fire
BEIJING — Even as it revels in a mounting heap of gold medals at the London Games, China has been troubled by a maelstrom of emotions: pride in its athletes’ achievements mixed with shame and disappointment that a pair of badminton players were disqualified for blatantly throwing a game, and indignation over what many here say are unfounded accusations that a record-breaking swimmer may have been fueled by performance-enhancing drugs.
On Thursday, as the news sank in that the Chinese badminton players, Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, were among four two-player teams of women disqualified a day earlier for intentionally losing a match, some Chinese bloggers heaped blame on what they said was an imperfect Olympics system. Others expressed shame that their team had subverted the rules — losing in order to play a weaker opponent in the next round — in the hopes of winning another medal. Some found fault with their coach. Not a few criticized the nation’s state-directed sports system and its obsessive quest for gold.
Hu Xijin, the editor of the nationalistic tabloid Global Times, called the players’ behavior a disgrace, adding a stinging kicker. “How pathetic!” he wrote.
The disappointment was compounded when Yu appeared to bow out of the sport for good. “Farewell my beloved badminton,” she wrote Thursday on her microblog account. “You have heartlessly shattered our dreams. It is just unforgivable.” It was not exactly clear whom she was blaming for her early retirement.
But any regret and introspection over the badminton scandal was largely subsumed by the outrage over suggestions, first raised by a prominent American coach, that the 16-year-old female swimmer, Ye Shiwen, could not have pulled off her record-shattering victory in the 400 individual medley on Saturday without some chemical assistance. Even if Olympic officials pronounced Ye clean, the innuendo — blithely repeated earlier this week by sports commentators, coaches and swimmers — snowballed into a gargantuan national insult. And the official news media, in what was clearly an orchestrated campaign, responded in kind.
People’s Daily, the newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, described the accusations as a “provocation” and said they represented the widespread hostility that Westerners feel toward a rising China. “It is due to their deep-rooted bias, an unwillingness to accept Chinese achievements,” the newspaper said.
The state-run Xinhua news agency called the accusations irresponsible and said they revealed Western envy at the nation’s growing economic might. “Apart from sports, the West has always shown a similar dark psychology and mentality toward the rise of China,” it wrote.
The Global Times also framed the suspicions about Ye as an orchestrated attack on the Chinese people. “The abnormal media reaction should be questioned more than Ye’s new record,” the newspaper wrote in its English-language edition.
If Ye, seemingly bewildered by the doubts about her victories, gently scolded her accusers, her father was far less constrained. “The Western media has always been arrogant and suspicious of Chinese people,” he told reporters.
The popular magazine Titan Sports was one of the few publications to find humor in the situation. “Ye Shiwen, the dual winner, has become the stimulant of the Chinese people,” it wrote in a headline on Wednesday.
The former head of the Chinese Olympics medical team lobbed a few incendiary insults of his own, accusing Michael Phelps and other American athletes of doping their way to Olympic glory. “The Americans have made many extraordinary performances but, without evidence, we have kept silent,” the doctor, Chen Zhanghao, told an Australian newspaper.
By Thursday, such sentiments had become all-consuming, clogging Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, and inspiring a celebrity businessman, Kai-Fu Lee, to post the phone number and home address of John Leonard, the executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, who first described Ye’s win as “impossible” and “unbelievable.” Lee, the former chief of Google in China, suggested that his 10 million followers use a “civilized and factual approach” to persuade Leonard he had erred. He later deleted the post, however, and apologized.
Jiang Yi, the managing editor of Sports Illustrated China, acknowledged that many of the responses were overwrought but said excess was understandable given the psychic battering Chinese had endured in recent years over successive doping scandals.
Although many non-Chinese sports commentators have glibly described Ye as having come out of nowhere, sports fans in China have been avidly following her career. Two years ago, Jiang noted, the magazine splashed her face on its cover after she won a pair of gold medals at the Asian Games. “We knew she was great then and that it was only a matter of time before she hit the international stage,” he said. “So the accusations were a shock to everyone.”
Still, he said the suspicions that reverberated this week were not entirely illogical, given the scandals that have dogged Chinese athletes in recent years. In the 1990s, dozens of Chinese swimmers were caught using banned substances and as recently as March, one of Ye’s teammates tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO.
History aside, Jiang urged reporters and commentators to think twice before tarring athletes with unsubstantiated accusations that could destroy a hard-earned reputation.
“We did lot of things in the past, and that gave us not quite a perfect image,” he said. “It’s a shame because a lot of Western media see China that way, but I hope it can get better.”
Patrick Zuo contributed research. Dan Levin contributed reporting. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/03/sp...html?ref=china
I only feel sorry for the Chinese athletes who have endured pain through their childhood to achieve the dream of their nation, as also improve their own financial fortunes since winning medals guarantees large money prizes and sponsorship, the sums that they attract they would have never dreamed of if they had a normal job.
Therefore, their disappointment and angst can be well understood. And one can only pity them.
For the Chinese, it is also a comedown if they do not match up and surpass the Medal Tally that they surprised the world with!
China competes with the US in all department and losing it to the US, having won over the US, is a serious loss of face.
And what is the worse fear for the Chinese is that they are not the most popular country in the world. If they lose the first place in medal tally, they will face great ridicule from all over the world.
Quite a few countries in the world are waiting for China to be brought down a notch or two and all their boast and pride that they keep on displaying is well punctured and they deflate like a punctured balloon.
This is why the People Daily has commented thus: they represented the widespread hostility that Westerners feel toward a rising China.
It is such a shame to treat first class athletes in this way or to condemn them because of failure or accuse them of irregularities without a proper probe.
Speak up for the athletes!
They have sacrificed their childhood for the Nation!
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