Category Archives: sports

“1st Tibetan Olympian wins medal for China”

From the AP, an article on Choeyang Kyi, the first Tibetan Olympic medalist:

Standing apart but, just this once, both wanting the same thing, groups of Chinese supporters shouted “Jia You!” while the Tibetans yelled “Gyuk!” – both meaning, “Go on!”

The Chinese waved their red flags. The Tibetans waved the flag of Tibet that is banned in China, with a bright yellow sun rising over a snow-clad mountain. They could hear and see each other, but they studiously ignored each other, too.

Not only did Qieyang make history for Tibetans, she won a medal, too – bronze in the women’s 20-kilometer race walk Saturday. She beamed when she crossed the finish line, a picture of delight. If she felt discomfort at all as a Tibetan in Chinese colors, she didn’t show it.

“I’m extremely honored to take part as the first representative of the Tibetans at the Olympic Games and to win a medal,” she said.

But she looked alarmed when asked if she saw the Tibetan flags, shaking her head and refusing to answer.

Great job to whichever worthless journalist thought it was a good idea to ask a young Tibetan runner who will return to China shortly about whether or not she saw Tibetan flags. Great job.

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“Iraq Loss Final Straw for China’s Soccer Lovers”

The Chinese culture of bribery and corruption has once again crashed hilariously into their sports culture, when the Chinese soccer team lost a World Cup qualifier match 1-0 against… Iraq. How could a country that barely exists as a country after decades of dictatorship, war, and occupation beat the newly emerging world power? Well (via Adam Mintner at Bloomberg):

The Chinese public’s passion for their national team’s history of mediocre soccer is a curious thing. In its history, China has qualified for only one World Cup, in 2002. China’s home-grown professional league enjoys pockets of popularity, but is often overshadowed by the misbehavior of its bratty stars — most of whom also play for the national team. This is despite the Chinese state — and companies seeking to curry favor with it — spending vast sums on the the Chinese Football Association, or CFA.

So how, then, did China’s loss to Iraq turn into one of the most angry and sustained popular discussions on China’s internet in recent months? Because, like so many other recent scandals in China, the national team’s World Cup failure is, in large part, a story about corruption.

For years, the Chinese public has been irritated by the self-serving bureaucrats who run the CFA, and a series of match-fixing scandals tied to them. In 2009, President Hu Jintao gave his support for police to conduct a thorough cleanup of the Chinese soccer system. Since then, more than a dozen soccer players, officials and referees — including one World Cup referee — have been arrested in an ongoing match-fixing investigation that has received intense media coverage. In March, a principal investigator on the case confirmed that “it was a common practice for football clubs to give bribes to referees.”

Despite government efforts to publicly come down on the Chinese soccer system, online commenters have adopted soccer corruption as a proxy for the wide-scale corruption that suffuses, and weakens, Chinese contemporary society.

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“Li Na and the Politics of Saying Thank You”

A hilarious piece from Evan Osnos about Li Na, the Chinese tennis player who has become a national superstar of the highest order over the last week:

Last year, the eighteen-year-old speed skater Zhou Yang was publicly criticized by a senior sports official because, after winning a gold medal in Vancouver, she thanked her parents before thanking the nation. (The Chinese public jeered at the criticism.)

Li has rarely been so accommodating. “She is the only athlete who has never said thank you to this person or that system,” Chinese fan Li Hongyang wrote this week on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, overstating Li’s independence only slightly. “She is the only one who openly admitted that she competes in the hopes of winning the money. And, yet, among all athletes, she donates the most for earthquake relief in Wenchuan and Yushu”—China’s dual disasters in 2008 and 2011. “She’s sincere, candid, and international.”

She is famously unpretentious. In January, Li defeated world number one Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open and drew laughs from the crowd by mocking her husband’s snoring the night before. Her posts to Weibo are peppered with uncorrected typos (in Chinese, that means the wrong character) and gushing with enthusiasm that contrasts with the solemn portrait of athletes who portray themselves as national treasures. Writing from Dubai over Chinese New Year, she wrote that she was given a glimpse of “a hotel room that costs seven thousand dollars a night. I was told that the bathroom was among the top ten in the world. And the bathtub—it should really be called a swimming pool—can [fit] five people. Unbelievable!”

Li Na mania seems pretty big right now- I even got a text message on my phone from the city government after she won the tournament.

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