A mouthpiece for China’s Communist party has joined the country’s netizens in heaping abuse on Australian swimmer Mack Horton, after Horton disparaged his Chinese counterpart Sun Yang during the Rio Olympics for a past doping incident. “Whatever the real reasons, Horton has no reason to feel proud of what he said about Sun,” said a commentary in the newspaper Global Times on Monday, according to The Guardian. “Actually we think Australia should feel embarrassed with Horton’s remarks.”
The commentary went on to castigate Australia in general: “In many serious essays written by Westerners, Australia is mentioned as a country at the fringes of civilization. In some cases, they refer to the country’s early history as Britain’s offshore prison. This suggests that no one should be surprised at uncivilized acts emanating from the country.”
The Chinese Olympic swimming team has demanded an apology from Australia’s gold medallist Mack Horton after his “malicious personal attack” on rival Sun Yang. Horton described Sun as a “drug cheat” last week and refused to retract the comments after defeating his rival in the 400m freestyle final atthe Rio 2016 Games on Saturday. “We have been noticing what has been said in the past two days by Horton, who launched a malicious personal attack [on Chinese swimmers],” Chinese swim team manager Xu Qi said on Sunday. “We think his inappropriate words greatly hurt the feelings between Chinese and Australian swimmers. It is proof of a lack of good manners and upbringing. We strongly demand an apology from this swimmer.”
Sun, who won gold in the 400m freestyle and 1500m freestyle at the London 2012 Olympics, served a three-month ban in 2014 after testing positive to a banned substance. The 24-year-old said he unwittingly took the drug as part of treatment for a chronic heart problem. After winning the gold medal race on Saturday, Horton said: “I used the words drug cheat because he tested positive. He’s one of the athletes here who has tested positive.” The Australian’s comments prompted a heated response on social media, where many Chinese fans describing the remarks as unjustified.
Horton’s comments were a top trending topic Sunday and Monday on Sina Weibo, China’s main social media platform, with one netizen expressing hope that Horton would be “killed by a local kangaroo”. Chinese broadcaster CCTV has also complained about the Chinese flags that were usedover the weekend during ceremonies at the Rio games. The small stars on the Chinese flag are supposed to all point toward the flag’s large star, but at the Rio games, the flags have small stars all pointing upward. “The national flag is the symbol of a country. No mistakes are allowed!” CCTV declared. To make matters worse, it was later revealed by Chinese media that the flags were manufactured in China.
Meanwhile, the IOC said it will look into the unfriendly comment Horton made on Sun Yang before it gave any comment. IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said on Sunday that he did not know the incident until reporters told him that Horton called defending 400m freestyle champion Sun a “drug cheat” before and after the men’s 400m freestyle final at the Rio Olympic Games.
SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN and XINHUANET
This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.