Canadian swimming commentator Byron MacDonald has apologised for his on-air remarks that a Chinese swimmer “died like a pig” after China lost to Canada in the 4x200m freestyle relay on the fifth day of the 2016 Games in Rio, Brazil.
The commentator from Canada’s national broadcaster CBC sparked outrage among Chinese fans, who accused him of being a “pig” and questioned whether he had achieved as much as the Chinese swimmers when he was young.
“The little 14-year-old from China dropped the ball, baby. Too excited, went out like stink, died like a pig. Thanks for that,” MacDonald said, unaware that his words were being picked up by a studio mic.
Chinese Ai Yanhan was the only 14-year-old swimmer on the team, which managed 7 minutes 47.96 seconds and finished in fourth place. Canada took bronze with a time of 7:45.39.
“We apologise the comment on a swim performance made it to air. It was an unfortunate choice of words – we’re sorry it happened,” CBC tweeted.
The following day, after online backlash from Chinese fans, MacDonald made his own apology live on the network’s broadcast.
“I would like to take a moment to apologise for a comment that I made last night after the women’s relay,” he said.
“I was referring to a swimmer’s performance, and not to them as a person. Needless to say, there was no disrespect intended and I’m very sorry.”
Chinese fans were outraged, with many saying that MacDonald himself was a “pig” to criticise the young Chinese swimmer.
“What have you achieved when you were 14? You are such a terrible person to criticise a juvenile girl,” one Weibo comment read.
“From this Olympics we can see that many countries have a nasty attitude to China,” another user added, “But that also shows that our country is growing and they feel uneasy because of that.”