Chinese embassies, netizens fire back at Western media over biased Olympics coverage
Published: Jul 25, 2021 03:38 PM
Photo: Screenshot of the tweet from the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka

Photo: Screenshot of the tweet from the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka

Mainstream Western media organizations like CNN and Reuters have been caught unfairly targeting China during their Tokyo 2020 Olympics coverage, prompting condemnation from Chinese netizens and embassies.

The Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka on Saturday criticized Reuters after it used a controversial photo of Chinese weightlifting gold winner Hou Zhihui. The photo captures the moment Hou was lifting a barbell with a struggling face. 

Reuters in a report titled "China's Hou wins 49-kg weightlifting gold" chose a photo of Hou in action, which has been widely regarded as disrespectful to the athlete. Later Saturday, Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka posted a tweet and said it showed the ugly face of Reuters.

"Don't put politics and ideologies above sports, and call yourself an unbiased media organization. Shameless. Respect the spirit of #Olympics," the embassy posted, calling out Reuters.

Some Western netizens argued that the photo that showed Hou while she was lifting the heavy load should not be regarded as inappropriate or ugly because it shows "nothing good in life comes easy." The embassy later made a comparison of Reuters's choice on coverage of other athletes. "Same day, same Olympics, same @Reuters, different faces. Maybe it's because everything good in life comes easier for the white westerners?'' the embassy remarked. 

The selection of the controversial photo also angered Chinese netizens. Some on Sina Weibo said it only exposes the "mean" face of Western media. "See how evil they are, not respecting Hou at all," one user said. Another Weibo user commented that the "smear and defame won't stop Chinese athletes winning honor for the country."

Anger over foreign media reports about Chinese players' participation in the Olympics was also heightened when CNN's coverage of the first gold medal of the Olympics, which was claimed by Chinese shooter Yang Qian, was coupled with a headline saying that "Gold for China…and more COVID-19 cases." 

This was slammed by Chinese readers for mixing two apparently separate news stories into one headline - the first gold medal of this Olympics for China, and more COVID-19 cases linked to the Olympics - because such a headline easily generates the false perception that the first gold medal is China's, and so are those new COVID-19 cases.

The headline has disappeared from CNN's homepage as of press time. The headline directed readers to the article with a head "The first day of the 2020 Olympics begins with gold for China and more COVID-19 cases." The news head did not specify what they meant by "more COVID-19 cases.'' 

"Only by reading the article could readers understand that the article was not linking China to the new COVID-19 cases," some netizens commented. 

Li Chao, a Beijing resident who has been following Olympics news, told the Global Times on Sunday, "The CNN's report angers and disappoints me. I'm not sure what motives are behind such biased coverage exactly, but as Chinese, we feel the country and Chinese athletes were being treated disrespectfully." 

Earlier, Chinese netizens and embassies criticized NBC for using an incomplete map of China during its broadcast of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 

"Using a wrong map of #China is a real lack of common sense. Politicizing sports and violating the Olympics Charter spirits will only do harm to the #Olympic Games and the relationship between the #Chinese and the #Americans," the Chinese consulate in New York said on Twitter on Saturday.

NBC's narrator attacked China and asked the audience "not to forget Hong Kong and Xinjiang" as the Chinese Olympic team appeared during the opening ceremony.