Runner called ‘unpatriotic’ for dropping national flag

By Zhang Han Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/19 21:43:39

Marathoner finishes 2nd, accused of being ‘unpatriotic’


Chinese marathon runner He Yinli competes on Sunday in the Suzhou Taihu Marathon. She placed second behind Ayantu Abera de Misse of Kenya. Photo: IC



 A marathon runner who dropped a Chinese national flag, which she was forced to take, in the final phase of the competition and subsequently lost was accused of being unpatriotic.

The incident sparked huge controversy on the internet as many netizens defended the runner and said interfering in the game and forcing an exhausted athlete to carry the flag is superficial patriotism.

When a volunteer tried - but failed - to hand over a national flag to Chinese marathon athlete He Yinli, another volunteer succeeded by standing in front of the runners. This happened when He was racing against Ayantu Abera de Misse of Kenya in the sprint phase of the Suzhou Taihu Marathon on Sunday in the East China city of Jiangsu Province.

Interrupted by the handover, He dropped the flag a few seconds later and Ayantu pulled ahead of her, as seen on videos of the race posted on Sina Weibo.

He finished second behind Ayantu, but was criticized as unpatriotic because she dropped the national flag.

Another marathon runner, Wei Jing, who did not compete, accused He of violating the National Flag Law. "Is the race more important than the national flag? Once you take the flag, you must hold it tightly," Wei said on Weibo on Sunday.

He responded that she did not drop it on purpose but was too tired to firmly hold the flag. The flag was soaking wet from the rain and slipped, He explained on Weibo on Sunday.

Some netizens expressed support for He and denounced Wei's accusation, saying asking an athlete to hold the national flag during the final phase of a competition is superficial patriotism. "Requiring an exhausted athlete to hold the national flag at the finish line is patriotic. Winning a gold medal is not?" said Weibo user ERyushu.

A Suzhou Sports Bureau official said on Monday that it was the volunteers' decision to hand over the flag, "probably out of patriotism." But unauthorized people are forbidden from blocking the runners.

Zhu Wei, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Monday that although public awareness of the national flag's dignity is commendable, He's actions should not be considered unpatriotic since she cannot control everything in a race.

An amateur marathon runner with 10 years of experience in the sport told the Global Times on Monday that a marathon is a serious competition and the rules must be respected.

"Marathons have started to serve as a host city's name card, which may encourage organizers to arrange a flag handover as a highlight to the race," he said. 


Newspaper headline: Runner drops national flag


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