The pressure on Chinese athletes for performance is higher than ever. Everything less than money is seen as an unpatriotic athlete by a ferocious online nationalist. Reported by Waiyee Yip of the BBC.
China’s mixed doubles table tennis team has made a tearful apology for winning the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics last week.
“I feel like the team has failed … I’m sorry for everyone,” Liu Shiwen apologized and said in tears.
Her partner Xu Xin added, “The whole country was looking forward to the final. I don’t think the whole Chinese team can accept the result.”
The defeat of their final against Japan in the sport they normally dominate left a lot of online rage.
On the microblogging platform Weibo, some “keyboard warriors” attacked the pair by saying they “broke the country.”
Others have made unfounded claims about the referee’s prejudice against Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito.
As nationalist fever continues to dominate the country, accumulating Olympic medal tally has become more than just the glory of sport.
For a crowd of ultra-nationalists, losing an Olympic medal is like “no patriotism,” experts told the BBC.
“For these people, the Olympic medal table tracks the power of the country and thus the dignity of the country in real time,” said Dr. Florian Schneider, director of the Leiden Asia Center in the Netherlands.
“In that context, someone who failed in the competition with foreigners disappointed or betrayed the country.”
The table tennis match was a particularly difficult drug to swallow as China lost to Japan, which shares a turbulent history.
Japan’s occupation of Manchuria in northern China in 1931, before the broader war began six years later, killed millions of Chinese. It is still a source of trouble between the two countries.
Dr. Schneider said the match was more than just an athletic event for Chinese nationalists. “It’s a standoff between China and Japan.”
Anti-Japanese sentiment towards Weibo increased throughout the match as users called Mizutani and Ito by all sorts of names.
But it’s not just Japan-or table tennis.
China’s Li Junhui and Liu Ari were targeted online when they lost their badminton doubles in Taiwan.
“Are you guys awake? You didn’t make any effort. What a crap!” Said one Weibo user.
Tension between China and Taiwan Soaring in recent years..
China sees Taiwan as a separate state, but many Taiwanese disagree and want another country.
Other target athletes included sniper Yang Ko-despite her Winning the first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics..
Her downfall? An old Weibo post where she unveiled her collection of Nike shoes.
People weren’t happy considering how the brands are in them Boycotted a pledge to stop using Xinjiang cotton because of concerns about forced labor..
“As a Chinese athlete, why should I collect Nike shoes? Shouldn’t I lead the way to boycott Nike?” I read a comment.
Yang then deleted the post.
Her teammate Wang Lu Yao also faced anger when she failed to compete in the women’s 10m air rifle final.
“Did you send you to the Olympics to represent a weak country?” Said one comment.
The criticism of her was overwhelming, so Weibo Suspend accounts of about 33 users, Said the local media.
Given the nature of the Olympic competition, those who are angry with losses are, of course, not unique to China.
In Singapore, star swimmer Joseph Schooling suffered a tough trolling last week after failing to defend the 100-meter butterfly crown.
The accusations became so sneaky that several government leaders, including President Halimah Yacob, came out asking for help.
But the anger seen online in China is arguably even more pronounced, not only because of its huge population and Internet savvy.
Dr. Jonathan Hasid, a political science expert at Iowa State University, said:
“In part, this voice is amplified as legitimate criticisms of the state are becoming increasingly unacceptable.”
China’s nationalism has grown exponentially in recent years as its global influence has grown and international criticism has been seen as an attempt to target China’s development.
Olympic also become hot Following the 100th anniversary ceremony of the Chinese Communist Party (CCPS) of July 1, Xi Jinping President, want a defiant speech that it would be China never be “bullied” to a foreign power did.
“Authorities have flagged nationalism as the right way to understand the current situation, and citizens are now looking to that framework when they need to understand China’s role in the world,” Dr. Schneider said. Stated.
“The Chinese people have been told that the success of the country is important, and now Chinese athletes must bring this success in Tokyo.”
However, Dr. Schneider and other experts said these angry reactionary nationalists probably did not represent the majority of China.
Dr. Hassid said: “If the only voices that are consistently allowed are the loudest nationalists, it’s not surprising that their voices can dominate online discussions far from the actual numbers.”
In the anger seen on Weibo, with widespread support for Team China, some called the troll “impossible.”
State media also called on the public to be more “rational.”
“We hope that all of us in front of the screen will establish a rational view of gold medals and victory and defeat in order to enjoy the spirit of the Olympics,” said Xinhua News Agency.
Experts say this shows where the “danger” is-when nationalism seems overkill, even to the nation.
“The Chinese Communist Party is trying to abuse online nationalism for its own purposes, but such events show that when Chinese citizens get angry, it becomes very difficult for the state to control these feelings.” Said Dr. Hassid.
“Using the emotions of nationalists is like riding a tiger. Once on board, it’s hard to control and hard to get off.”
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