Chinese social media users have unleashed a new wave of hostility against Japanese athletes over the past week after China suffered two high-profile losses to the Olympic hosts at events they have traditionally dominated.
The judges were accused of bias and the Japanese team mocked epithets such as “little Japan”, a derogatory label popular in East Asia after WWII, following the surprise victory of the Japan vs China in the mixed doubles final in table tennis and artistic gymnastics. men’s all-around competition.
“If Japan hadn’t hosted the Olympics, the world might still sympathize with this. Now, not only is the Olympic spirit missing, but anti-Japanese sentiment has awakened, ”wrote Yin Jiliang, a Shanghai-based vlogger with over a million followers, on Weibo, the platform of Chinese social media like Twitter.
Anti-Japanese sentiment in China has grown and diminished, depending on the state of bilateral relations, with the historic scars of the Japanese invasion during World War II cited by Chinese netizens to explain the depth of their antipathy towards their neighbor.
But others criticized anti-Japanese netizens for their inability to come to terms with defeat, especially when their favorite athletes lost to Japan.
At the halfway point, China lead the medal table with 19 gold medals and Japan just second at 17 on Saturday morning.
The animosity online started early during the Games on Monday when Japan’s Mima Ito and Jun Mizutani defeated Liu Shiwen and Xu Xin in the table tennis mixed doubles final. The shock result ended China’s sweep of gold medals in the sport since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The two pairs had faced each other three times before, all ending in a Chinese victory.
Some Team China supporters were quick to point out that Ito had touched the table and accuse Mizutani of blowing the ball, against the rules imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. On that day, posts with the trending Chinese-language hashtag #Mizutani blew on the ball # were read 830 million times, according to website data.
Wu Pengkai, a 20-year-old math student at Weifang University in Shandong Province, wrote, “Rules are rules, and violations are violations. It is clear that he blew on the ball. What were they thinking, those Internet users who said that the Chinese could not accept defeat? “
She added in another post that the Japanese pair’s red shirts were the same color as the floor and seating in the venue, which confused the Chinese duo.
But another user urged “Little Pinks” – young nationalist social media users known as xiaofenhong in hanyu pinyin – to show respect: “The competition was brilliant. Both sides were very strong and were very humble and
respectful to others. Why can’t you show respect to table tennis and sport? These radical Little Pinks are annoying.
Another user with the name of “pingzinan” said: “Please love our country rationally! Why does it seem that if we don’t berate the Japanese, we are no longer Chinese?
Xiao Ruoteng’s defeat on Wednesday against Daiki Hashimoto in the men’s all-around artistic gymnastics competition again touched Chinese internet users.
They claimed without evidence that the judges were biased against China in giving Hashimoto’s chest a score of 14.700, despite it going out of bounds on landing. Weibo users compared its safe to that of the Chinese
gymnast Sun Wei, who scored 14.900 – a result according to netizens should be higher because Sun stayed within the limits.
This sent #Xiao Ruoteng to put aside the # national flag hashtag trend. The label itself reflected that Weibo users had misinterpreted Xiao’s removal of the Chinese flag for photographers as wrapping it, when Hashimoto pulled out the Japanese flag when it was clear he had won. . Nationalist messages with the tag have been read 200 million times.
Xiao himself wrote on his profile, “I hope everyone can continue to support Chinese athletes, support Chinese gymnastics, support Xiao Ruoteng, yes, me! But I hope everyone can avoid going too far by attacking the athletes themselves.
The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), the governing body, released a statement on Twitter in response on Thursday, reaffirming that the judgment was fair and accurate. “The FIG thanks all the competitors for their excellent performances and their sportsmanship”, he added.
Social media users also slammed the referee during Thursday morning’s mixed doubles badminton match, which they said wrongly ruled that the Japanese pair stayed on their side of the pitch by hitting the shuttle, contrary to complaints. of the Chinese team.
“Little Pinks” – a Chinese character set meaning “fans of red” – not only criticized Japanese athletes, but also praised the Chinese who defeated them, as if they had avenged the losses of their compatriots.
Fang Siqian, from Nantong, Jiangsu Province, on Weibo-branded table tennis player Sun Yingsha, an “anti-Japanese hero,” a label commonly applied to Chinese veterans of the Second Sino-Japanese War after her victory in the semifinals against the Japanese Mima Ito.
“Ito, your mother was lying to you. You can’t beat the Chinese team, ”read the words on one of the photos accompanying her post as she pointed out the 4-0 score for Sun.
Little Pinks have been gaining prominence on social media for years, defending the Chinese government against criticism and promoting nationalism.
And the feelings of the “Little Pinks” did not go unnoticed by other commentators, who called for calm.
Wang Yibo, in Beijing, said on Weibo, “It was just an Olympic game, but it got a lot of people to take it up. It’s too noisy. Try to focus only on the fighting spirit of the athletes. I’m going to go to sleep.”
Meanwhile, documentary maker Guo Wei, with 1.49 million followers, said, “The Japanese made the Olympics a great event for nationalist education.
Additional reporting by Ziyu Zhang
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