Tokyo (Associated Press)-Two teams from two cities in China are fighting each other on the badminton court, beating badminton back and forth.
There is nothing unusual there. In China, teams have been playing against each other. For the winning Beijing mixed doubles combination, this week’s game is mediocre in any other domestic competition.
“Because we are too familiar.” Huang Yaqiong of the winning team said. “no difference.”
Except this is the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics. For China, the rare privilege of being able to send two completely different teams—one from mainland China, dressed in bright communist red, and the other from Hong Kong, dressed in royal blue—is essentially He was given a couple at the Olympic Games. Cherry. These are two ways to get another shining Olympic gold medal, and the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are so eager to prove that they are doing an excellent job.
China’s double-teaming at the Olympics—for example, the equivalent of sending a national team from the United States and another athlete from New York—has never been a big problem at the Olympics, and it hasn’t been a problem so far. . Tokyo.
But two things that are happening may have an impact on the equation.
First, Hong Kong is winning in an unprecedented way. For this southern Chinese coastal city with a population of 7.5 million, Tokyo is the most successful competition ever. Fencer Zhang Jialang won the gold medal in the men’s foil competition. This is Hong Kong’s first gold medal since the former British colony was re-absorbed by China in 1997. Zhang was born 20 days before a major change in the city’s trajectory.
When windsurfer Li Lishan won Hong Kong’s first and only previous gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, “Bless the Queen” played at the awards ceremony. In Tokyo, for Zhang, it was China’s national anthem “March of Volunteers.”
Swimmer Siobhan Haughey was born in Hong Kong four months after the handover in 1997. He also won two silver medals in Tokyo, becoming the city’s first multiple medal winner. The sum of their treasures exceeds the one gold, one silver and one bronze Hong Kong has accumulated since its debut in the Olympic Games in 1952.
But this success also raises a question: China-one team is labeled “China” and the other team is labeled Hong Kong-is there a variety of ways to get on the Olympic podium ? Should Hong Kong athletes be included in the Chinese national team-for example, athletes from Scotland, Wales and some from Northern Ireland join the British team in the British team?
If people accept Beijing’s position that the island of Taiwan is also part of its territory, then one can even argue that it is a privilege for China to have three teams participating in the Olympics. In order to avoid conflict with Beijing, Taiwan was required to participate in the Olympic Games as “Chinese Taipei.” This is the name of the capital of the island off the east coast of China. It has been autonomous since 1949, when it became a refuge for the Chinese Kuomintang government fleeing communist occupation of the mainland.
Naturally, Hong Kong athletes shudder at any suggestion to lose the team.
“Hong Kong does have its own characteristics. We have always had our own training system,” said Xie Yingxue, a female member of the “Hong Kong, China” group who lost to China in the semifinals of the badminton mixed doubles.
“It is Hong Kong’s pride to be able to get fencing gold medals and swimming silver medals in such a small place. It is so interesting to be able to perform so well in such a small place.”
Another change in reassessing whether Hong Kong is still worthy of its own team is China’s recent treatment of this territory. In short, not friendly.
After frequent violent anti-government and anti-Chinese protests in 2019, Hong Kong continued to suppress democratic voices.
On the same day that Haughey booked her first ticket to the Tokyo final, in the 200-meter freestyle, a Hong Kong court convicted the first person guilty of separatism and terrorism under a comprehensive new national security law.
Hong Kong’s freedom has been eroded and affected its Olympic team in many ways.
On the one hand, every arrest, every newspaper closure, and every blow to the freedom that distinguishes Hong Kong from other cities in China seems to weaken its reasons for its independence in the Olympics. Beijing and Shanghai do not have an Olympic team. The more like they are, why does Hong Kong want it?
On the other hand, depriving its team of Hong Kong’s uniqueness will be another morale blow to its identity.
“Hong Kong people want to be represented independently in sports events because it helps develop their community and sense of belonging,” said Ronaldson, the leader of the Hong Kong opposition in the UK. “As Hong Kong enjoys a unique culture and community, they should continue to be represented by their own team.”
The crowd also conveyed this message by gathering in shopping malls in Hong Kong to cheer for their medal winners. The shopping mall is a protest site in 2019.
Videos on social media showed crowds in the mall chanting “We are Hong Kong”, and a huge screen is playing the Tokyo medal ceremony, which has largely submerged the Chinese national anthem.
Zhong Jinhua, vice president of the Hong Kong Institute of Public Opinion, said that for those who are angry and frustrated with Beijing, the city’s Olympic team has become a “symbol of resistance”. He said that cheering for Hong Kong athletes and also cheering for mainland Chinese athletes when they lose is “an expression of increasing confrontation.”
Zhong added that he would not be surprised if Beijing seeks to dissolve the Hong Kong team and incorporate its athletes into a Chinese team in the future to eliminate another aspect of Hong Kong’s uniqueness.
“Beijing,” he said, “think it can do anything.”
Although Hong Kong is unusual in the Olympic Games, it is not completely separated, but not completely.
If athletes from Guam in the Pacific Ocean or the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean win in Tokyo, their Olympic champions will hear the American national anthem “Stars and Stripes.” As a US territory, they compete in the Olympics with their own flag, just like Hong Kong. American Samoa and Puerto Rico also have their own teams.
Olympic historian David Volechinski described the position of Olympic organizers in these areas as “ambiguous and unfixed.”
“Hong Kong and other colonies seem to be allowed to continue to be beneficiaries of certain grandfather clauses, although I have never seen a document explaining this situation,” said the author of The Olympic Games.
For now, the future of the Olympics in Hong Kong seems to be solid. But how long does it last?
“As far as I know, the status of Hong Kong has not been discussed,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said on Friday. “I don’t see a reason why it won’t continue.”
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