The resignation of a top Chinese badminton player sparked a storm of controversy on China's Twitter equivalents this week, with many netizens hitting out at the state-backed sports system, while others pledged continued support to the athletes.
The netizens left comments supporting top-seeded Yu Yang, who was disqualified by badminton officials on Wednesday along with seven other players from China, Indonesia, and South Korea after the pairs tried to lose games in order to achieve a favorable pairing in the final.
Yu was among eight women’s doubles players expelled from the Games. The others were teammate Wang Xiaoli, South Korean pairs Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, as well as Indonesians Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari.
“This is my last competition. Goodbye Badminton World Federation (BWF), goodbye my beloved badminton,” Yu wrote on her Tencent microblog, in a tweet that was reposted more than 24,000 times on Thursday. “We … only chose to use the rules to abandon the match."
”This was only so as to be able to compete better in the second round of the knockout [stage]. This is the first time the Olympics has changed the [event’s format]. Don’t they understand the harm this has caused the athletes?"
Yu and teammate Wang Xiaoli, as well as Chinese badminton official Liu Fengyan and team manager Li Yongbo, have all now apologized, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Coaches at fault?
Yu's tweet, and subsequent postings, garnered tens of thousands of replies.
"We will always support you and we believe you are the best," wrote user @Chenxiweibo on the popular Tencent microblogging platform.
"Yu Yang, this wasn't your fault," wrote user @Malanhua. "It's that this country is too weak and its politicians incompetent."
User @ziqo added: "This was a strategic decision, and we Chinese people should still stick together."
"Not to play to the best of your ability was wrong," wrote @liuhao."You didn't do your best."
Many users blamed China's officially backed training system for top athletes, however.
"Why does everyone insist on making the athletes carry all the blame?" wrote @CC. "The Chinese team made the players do this so as to maximize their likelihood of a gold medal. I think that the coaches are the behind-the-scenes strategists here."
"The players were just doing as the coaches told them, and they have become the victims and taken the rap for it."
Meanwhile, on Tencent's rival service Sina Weibo, user @kakadeshujiazuoyeweibodaren wrote: "Some people are saying that this was...strategy, but what are you going to say to those people who bought tickets to watch the match?"
"This sort of strategy goes against the spirit of the Olympics."
And @jiangnanwumingxiaocu added: "They should be disqualified for good."
Reported by Luisetta Mudie.