Figure skater Zhu Yi (朱易), fell twice during Olympic competition on Sunday (February 6th) leading to backlash from Chinese netizens, a generous amount attacking her American roots.
The young skater slipped and fell, she was reportedly very nervous during her competition, something that is not out of the ordinary for high level competition. However, Chinese netizens took to Weibo to to attack the young athlete. Many took the nationalistic route, questioning whether she should be competing for China in the first place.
The 19 year old is American born, but naturalized to China to compete for them in the Olympics. She even changed her name from Beverly Zhu to Zhu Yi. However, her sacrifices were not enough for many Chinese citizens, they demand perfection.
Many online criticized her Mandarin ability and her patriotism. Others hurled accusations of cronyism, claiming that she only got on the team because of her father. While much of China’s state-run media was much more forgiving, many citizens held nothing but hate for the talented young skater.
This is nothing new, international games such as the Olympics often bring out horrific nationalism in viewers. Hoping to show their country’s dominance, they will accept no mistakes. This is of course also not limited to China, just a year ago, American gymnast Simone Biles, faced a mountain of disgusting vitriol from many online after forgoing a few stages of competition due to psychological issues during the Tokyo 2020 games.
However, it does seem that some countries deal with failure a bit worse than others, China and America are two of those countries. It is a relatively common occurrence to go on Chinese social media during international competitions, or even in regards to celebrities, and see Chinese people spewing hate against their own stars. Extreme nationalism is one of the features for many in Chinese society and has seemingly been growing as the nation routinely encounters resistances to its routine and flagrant human rights abuses in places like Tibet, East Turkestan, and Hong Kong.
This is likely to continue long into the future unfortunately. This is especially sad being that sports should be for enjoyment and friendly competition, not for nationalistic chest beating. They should bring us together and create comradery not division.
Another thing that should bring everyone together is the denunciation and boycott of the Olympic games until they are radically reformed, they should no longer be allowed to profit off of the destruction of local economies and the whitewashing of authoritarian regimes.