Taiwan’s Gold Medal Win Over China in Badminton Raises Tension
At the men’s doubles badminton medal ceremony on Saturday, the winning players saw a flag rise, but it was not theirs. They sang like a song that echoed in the almost empty hall, but it was not their hymn.
For decades, politics have stood in the way of the Olympic glory of Taiwan, an autonomous democracy that China claims as its territory. Rather than using its official name, Republic of China, or even Taiwan, the island participates in international sporting events under the name Chinese Taipei, under a resolution passed by the International Olympic Committee. The terms prohibit the use of any symbol suggesting that Taiwan is a sovereign nation.
Taiwanese badminton duo Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin beat China’s Liu Yuchen and Li Junhui on Saturday, winning Taiwan’s first gold in the sport. In accordance with regulations, their victory was marked by the hoisting of the flag he uses at the Olympics, a white banner with a plum blossom motif and Olympic rings, and the performance of a song known as hymn of the flag, commonly used in international sports competitions. events he attends.
Tensions between the two sides had been exacerbated even before the final, with Lee and Wang highlighting their Taiwanese identity on social media. In a post on Facebook afterwards, Lee said his gold medal was “dedicated to my country, Taiwan”.
Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan, also congratulated the players for “winning our country’s first gold medal in badminton”.
Badminton is one of the Olympic sports traditionally dominated by China, where the state-run sports system is designed to maximize the number of gold medals in part by focusing on less important sports.
Taiwan’s badminton victory has sparked some anger on Weibo, a popular social media platform in China, as well as user comments praising China for a victory they, like Taiwan itself, consider to be. belonging to Beijing. Others accused badminton players of advocating Taiwan’s independence and criticized them as ungrateful.
“You can participate in the Games because there is’ Chinese Taipei ‘on your shirts,” wrote a Weibo user who said Taiwanese players’ allusions to national sovereignty left him speechless.
Similar nationalist attacks have focused on athletes from Hong Kong, a Chinese territory that has its own Olympic team.
Social media users in Taiwan responded with memes depicting a badminton court as the island’s new national flag.
The results were reversed in Sunday night’s women’s singles final, when Chen Yufei of China defeated top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan. Prior to the game, many Weibo users in China had previously accused Tai of being pro-independence, citing past remarks lamenting his inability to carry the Taiwan flag in international competitions.
“We can lose to anyone except the Taiwanese and Hong Kong separatists,” one user wrote.
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