Olympic table tennis gold medalist Mizutani speaks out against online abuse


TOKYO (Reuters) – Jun Mizutani, who has become a target of cyberbullying after winning Japan’s first Olympic gold in table tennis, said on Monday he would fight online abuse.

The 32-year-old paddler and Mima Ito wowed the world in an epic battle in the mixed doubles final last week, narrowly beating long-invincible Chinese pair Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen.

Mingled with the flood of congratulatory comments on social media, however, Mizutani also received death threats and name-calling from those who believed he and Ito had broken the rules and that he hadn’t played. his best.

“I think I’m more immune to online abuse than others,” said Mizutani, who said on Monday he was called a “loudmouth” to the press after winning the men’s tag team match against Australia. “But this is something we absolutely should not allow to happen.”

In a now deleted tweet posted days after winning the gold medal, Mizutani wrote that he had received numerous direct messages on Twitter telling him to “drop dead”.

On Saturday, the paddler posted a video on Twitter of lengthy abusive direct messages sent to him from an anonymous account.

“I will contact all parties concerned to take the necessary action,” Mizutani wrote, adding that he had recorded screenshots of the malicious messages so that he could take action.

Twitter’s guidelines state that it does not tolerate content that calls for harming any person or group of people, and an account may be asked to remove content or be permanently suspended after review if it turns out that it does. he mainly engages in abusive behavior. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Japanese Olympic Committee has set up a special team to patrol the social media accounts of athletes participating in the Tokyo Games to report malicious online posts to authorities, local media reported in June. The committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Japan Metropolitan Police Department will take appropriate action if the athletes file a report, a spokesperson said.

“If I leave all the online abuse that I receive as is, the target will be shifted to other athletes, so I think I have to deal with it properly now,” Mizutani said on Monday.

“I’m one of the oldest and have experience, so I want to be a leader in eliminating defamation online,” he added.

Other Olympians have been harassed on social media, including Japanese gymnast Daiki Hashimoto, 19, who won the all-around gymnastics crown, and South Korean archer An San, 20, who became the target of hostility online here at home. after cutting her hair short.

Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Karishma Singh


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