Hong Kong Gets Historic Gold Amid Row Over Olympian's Black Shirt

Fencer Edgar Cheung brings home the first gold in a quarter-century as badminton ace Angus Ng hits back at criticism from a pro-China party member.
By RFA's Cantonese Service
2021-07-26
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Hong Kong Gets Historic Gold Amid Row Over Olympian's Black Shirt Hong Kong's Edgar Cheung (L) competes against Italy's Daniele Garozzo during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, July 26, 2021.
AFP

Hong Kong celebrated its first gold Olympic gold medal in a quarter of a century on Monday, amid a political row over a black shirt worn by another Olympian.

Edgar Cheung, 24, took gold in the individual men's foil fencing competition, beating Daniele Garozzo of Italy (silver) 15-11 at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba City.

Leung's gold medal was the city’s first since 1996. Hundreds of people crowded into a Hong Kong shopping mall erupted in joy at the result, according to video posted by the South China Morning Post newspaper.

Cheung told reporters that his win was "totally unbelievable," coming as it did after some mixed results.

"I thought to myself – everyone was either an Olympic champion or a world champion, and I was nobody. That helped me relax a bit," he said.

Cheung thanked his family for putting up with his "bad temper" and promised to give his medal to his father.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam she was "thrilled" by Cheung's performance.

"He has succeeded in making history for Hong Kong. His excellent result ... makes all Hong Kong people proud," she said.

A clip of Cheung receiving his medal circulated on social media on Monday, overdubbed with the now-banned 2019 protest anthem "Glory to Hong Kong."

Cheung's victory came as another Hong Kong Olympian hit back at a pro-China teacher and political activist who "strongly condemned" his wearing of a black shirt during one of his badminton matches at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

High-school teacher Nicholas Muk had condemned badminton player Angus Ng for wearing a black shirt with no Hong Kong bauhinia flag during his first match at the Tokyo Olympics.

Ng, 27, hit back on Instagram saying he had to buy his own kit, and hadn't yet gotten authorization to print the city's official flag on his shirt, which carried only his name and the words "Hong Kong China."

“I have always been proud to represent Hong Kong in competitions. Deep down in my heart, I also like this bauhinia flower very much,” Ng said via Instagram on Monday.

“I hope when people are watching the Olympics, they can focus on athletes’ performance, rather than on my shirt… by the way – you may raise criticism, but please figure out what the matter was about before you criticize,” he wrote.

'Please choose to withdraw'

Muk, who heads the Wanchai branch committee of the pro-China Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), had written: "Other team members taking part in the mixed doubles event wore a tidy uniform with the HKSAR flag printed."

"If [you] don’t want to represent Hong Kong China, please choose to withdraw from the competition," Muk wrote.

His Facebook account was unavailable on Monday, having apparently been deleted.

Executive Council member Ronny Tong called on Hong Kong's athletes to avoid wearing black, as it is linked to support for the 2019 protest movement, which the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regards as an attempt by foreign forces to foment a "color revolution" in the city.

The government said it would review uniform designs following "a communication problem with the badminton team."

People's loyalty wasted

Current affairs commentator Lam Kei said it was this kind of political denunciation that was "the major driving force behind people emigrating away from Hong Kong."

He said the government was "wasting" people's loyalty by failing to support the city's athletes properly.

"Angus Ng later clarified that it was down to the tragic fact that athletes are not valued by Hong Kong," Lam said in a commentary broadcast by RFA's Cantonese Service. "They were able to win at the Olympics but they didn't even get sponsorship."

"They had to bring their own jerseys and get them printed themselves, and they were so worried about violating laws about [Chinese] regional flags that they didn't dare to get the flag printed privately," he said.

"What kind of government claims to support its athletes, and yet they still have to get their jerseys printed themselves?"

The CCP has presided over an ever-widening crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong after imposing a draconian national security law on the city from July 1, 2020. Dozens of peaceful activists and pro-democracy politicians have been arrested for "subversion" for taking part in a democratic primary later the same month.

The pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper had its assets frozen and several of its journalists arrested for "collusion with foreign forces," and was forced to close last month after being raided by national security police. Its founder Jimmy Lai is in prison pending trial on the same charge.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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