The ongoing Rio Olympics have sparked fresh debate on Hongkongers’ sense of identity in relation to mainland China, after some of them mocked the disappointing performance of China’s athletes.
Mean-spirited comments on social media surfaced after China’s athletes ended the opening day of the Games without any gold medal.
After Chinese swim star and defending champion Sun Yang lost the gold to his Australian rival Mack Horton in the 400m freestyle final, an internet user mocked: “It must be because of the time difference, bad water quality and interference of foreign forces!”
Hong Kong Baptist University student Jessie Pang, 19, told Young Post she wasn’t proud when a Chinese athlete won a gold medal. YP cadet Pauline Wong, 14, from Maryknoll Convent School said she would be more excited if Hong Kong athletes, such as swimmer Siobhan Haughey, did well or broke records.
“I’ll be sad if the Chinese national team doesn’t do well, but I care more about Hong Kong’s athletes because I consider myself a Hongkonger,” Pauline said.
But China’s Olympic gold medal haul used to be a source of national pride even for Hong Kong. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 51.9 per cent of Hongkongers identified as “Chinese. As of June this year, that figure was 30.7 per cent.
Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies said Tuesday the rise of localism and anti-mainland sentiments in Hong Kong had heightened negative attitudes towards China’s athletes.
He added that this would likely become a source of conflict in the future.