Table tennis player Fan Zhendong speaks up to reject distorted fan behaviors in sport zone
Published: Oct 19, 2021 07:22 PM
Fan Zhendong celebrates a point at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Friday. Photo: Cui Meng/Global Times

Fan Zhendong celebrates a point at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Friday. Photo: Cui Meng/Global Times

Chinese table tennis player Fan Zhendong recently posted on his fan forum on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo to speak up about dealing with the fans' extreme idolization, and his rejection of the crazy fandom often seen in the entertainment industry that has speeded into the sport circle. 

Not having a personal Sina Weibo account, Fan instead posted a long letter to fans on his fan base at the site to state that he will never inspire fans to organize voting events for increasing online popularity for him, or encouraging fans to raise money to support him or wasting time to wait him at public events. Fan also drew a clear line by saying that he will not accept any forms of gift from fans. 

Additionally, he said he will try his best to avoid being affected by the "distorted behaviors" that emerged in "other circle" to enter the sport zone, by which many netizens believed that he was referring to the extreme fandom witnesses in the entertainment sector such as unruly fans crushed together at airports waiting for stars, or secretly lurking around a celebrity's residents.

"It is hard to prevent fans from crazy admiration to athletes because it doesn't matter if he is an actor or an athlete, or in the entertainment or sport circle; it is the fame raised from public exposure that make those fans have increased curiosities to the individual. In other words, sport fans treating their favorite athlete as an idol too," Yang Xin, a fan culture researcher, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Fan's earnest letter led to many netizens on Sina Weibo acknowledging that the distorted behavior to athletes can bring bad influence to their career performances, and urged for official regulations to protect athletes.  

On September 30, in responding to the incidents such as Chinese Olympic medal winning swimmer Wang Shun been forced to put on a hat at the airport by a fan, Chinese Olympic Committee issued an official statement criticizing the distorted fan behaviors transmitted to the sport circle.  

The statement is in line with the two-month "Clear and Bright" campaign that the Cyberspace Administration of China launched in May to rein in the behavior of Chinese fan clubs. 

"Not just disturbing their everyday lives, fans' extreme behaviors can also make negative psychological impact on athletes, distracting them from being focused on games," Wang, a sport insider told the Global Times.   

It was not the first time that Fan has been "disturbed" by fans; In September, he experienced a rather chaotic situation at airport, by which people crushing together to take his pictures and seeking for interactions. 

In his letter, the table tennis player said that he wishes the relationship between fans and him to be "simple"- watching his games, and cheer for him in front of TV is good enough.