China’s foreign ice hockey team suffers a devastating defeat to the United States at its Olympic debut


China has placed the hope of Olympic hockey on a team consisting mostly of foreign-born players. But reality has hit their debut hard.

On Thursday night, in front of 1,000 spectators, a Chinese hockey team full of foreign-born recruits from the United States and Canada was beaten 8-0 by a new US team.

For some, the results were not surprising. Ice hockey is not a popular sport in China. When Beijing acquired the right to host the 2022 tournament seven years ago and the automatic qualifying for sports took place, Beijing had never played in a men’s Olympic hockey game and will play in such a tournament. But it was the lowest scored team ever.

Beijing’s solution was to procure talent from all over the world. Of the 25 players on the men’s hockey team, 15 were born and raised in the United States and Canada. Faced with the same problem, the women’s team hired 13 out of 23 people from abroad. All foreign players were named Chinese after their conversion.

The International Ice Hockey Federation allows players to represent a country if they have lived and played in the league for two years. Therefore, in 2016, a new Chinese team, HC Kunlun Red Star, was formed to participate in the Kontinental Hockey League, a professional league in Russia, and send these new male players to China. China does not have its own professional hockey league.

The team has performed poorly over the past few seasons. In fact, the ability of the players was so concerned that the International Ice Hockey Federation seriously considered dropping the Chinese national team from the Olympics, even if it was a big blow to the host country, China.

“It’s not good for China, ice hockey, or anyone to see the team lose 15-0,” the president of sports governor Luc Tardif told AFP in September.

However, the Chinese team was fortunate with the 11-hour decision by the National Hockey League to skip the Beijing Olympics at COVID-19. In short, we faced a weak team from North America. But Thursday night, the defeat by the US team, full of the youngest American hockey players in decades, probably showed that it didn’t make a difference after all.

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Jeremy Smith, the Chinese goalkeeper, scored a goal for Brian O’Neill of the United States in the men’s qualifying round group A match of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Ice Hockey Tournament held at the Beijing National Gymnasium on February 10, 2022. It will react after you decide. (Bruce Bennett / POOL / AFP (via Getty Images)

The hockey team had an easier time on the Chinese internet, in contrast to the treatment given to Zhu Yi, a US-born figure skater representing China, where several fell on the ice.

“By standing on the platform of the Olympics and showing their presence, these young companions are already making history,” read a newspaper article directed by the Communist Party branch in Shanghai. The players showed “courage, determination, fighting spirit” on the world stage, but “unfortunately, the difference in power between the two teams was too great.”

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Puck surpassed China’s goal in the Men’s Qualifying Round Group A match at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Ice Hockey Tournament at the Beijing National Gymnasium on February 10, 2022. (Anthony Wallace / AFP via Getty image)

China does not allow dual citizenship, but this time the rules seem to have been relaxed and did not strictly require players to abandon their foreign passports to join the Chinese team.

Michigan-born goalkeeper Jeremy Smith said he had never been asked to renounce US citizenship.

However, for some players, riding the Olympic platform was sufficient.

“Of course I said so,” Smith told The Associated Press. He remembered being offered a two-year contract to play in China. “I’m honored to be in the Olympics, but I didn’t think I had a chance in my lifetime to dream of playing in the host city of the Olympics.”

Yip, a Canadian-born team captain who played 174 games in the National Hockey League, also shared his feelings.

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Block Faber (C) of the United States played against Tyler Wong (L), Zhang Zesen (above) and Brandon Yip of China at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Ice Hockey Tournament in Men’s Qualifying Round Group A at the Beijing National Gymnasium. Compete in. February 10, 2022. (Anthony Wallace / AFP via Getty Images)

“I’m almost 37 years old and my professional career is nearing the end,” Yi, known as Ye Jinguang in China, wrote on Chinese social media Weibo two days before his debut.

“Stepping on the ice at the Olympics is our lifelong dream,” he continued, adding that he would strive to remind the world that he was there.

“We were excited. It’s been a long time,” said Yip after the defeat. He said they “made a great start” and then “made too many defensive mistakes.”

Even the more urgent challenges are ahead. The next weekend opponents are Germany and Canada, ranked 5th and 1st in the world, respectively.

Evafu

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Eva Fu is a New York-based writer of The Epoch Times, focusing on Sino-US relations, religious freedom, and human rights. Contact Eva at [email protected]

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