HK sports federation urged to conduct in-depth probe on another national anthem blunder at a sporting event
Published: Mar 01, 2023 05:23 PM

Wrong Chinese national anthem played at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III in Bosnia Photo:

Wrong Chinese national anthem played at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III in Bosnia Photo:

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government expressed strong dissatisfaction on Wednesday toward an incident involving the wrong Chinese national anthem played at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III in Bosnia, urging the Hong Kong Sports Federation and Olympic Committee (SF&OC) to conduct an in-depth investigation and follow up on the incident. 

The incident occurred after the Hong Kong team defeated Iran 11-1 in Group B of the competition with the wrong song played for around 10 seconds. Some members from the Hong Kong team made a "T-gesture sign" to signal the problem. 

Similar incidents have been occurred last year during the international sports events where a song linked with Hong Kong's violent unrest in 2019 was played in the place of the Chinese national anthem, caused strong protest of the HKSAR government. 

In November, World Rugby apologized to the Hong Kong Rugby Union for an error which appeared on the television broadcast of a match between the HKSAR and Portuguese teams at the Final Qualification Tournament for Rugby World Cup 2023, when an incorrect graphics caption was used when the Chinese National Anthem was played prior to the game.

And at the Asian Classic Powerlifting Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in December 2022, after HK weight lifter Susanna Lin won a gold medal and stepped onto the podium, instead of playing the Chinese national anthem, a song associated with social turmoil in Hong Kong in 2019 was played, until the athlete made a T-sign gesture to stop the song after about 15 seconds before organizers changed the music into the right one.

On November 22, 2022, the SF&OC issued guidelines to all sports associations in the HKSAR for handling the broadcasting of national anthem and the hoisting of HKSAR flag during the participation of Hong Kong teams in international sports events.

It said that if an error occurs in such circumstances, athletes and team officials shall signify their objection with a T-sign gesture; if the organizer does not correct it immediately, the team leader shall lead all players in leaving the field.

The HKSAR government said in a statement on Wednesday that according to the game video, Hong Kong athletes have immediately protested in accordance with the guidelines issued by the SF&OC, prompting the organizers to make immediate corrections. The HKSAR government affirmed the performance of Hong Kong athletes on the spot to safeguard the dignity of the country.

The HKSAR government attaches great importance to the incident and has requested the SF&OC to conduct in-depth investigations, including whether the relevant sports associations have followed the guidelines to re-check with the event organizers that the national anthem to be used is the correct version. 

It also urged the SF&OC to submit a report as soon as possible and follow up the incident seriously.

In a statement sent by the SF&OC to the Global Times on Wednesday, it said it has been learning more information from the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association and knew that the association, in line with the guidelines of the SF&OC, had submitted the correct version of the Chinese national anthem to the organizer and relevant team members responded appropriately and timely to the incident, which showed that the SF&OC's guidelines are effective. 

The SF&OC has instructed the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association to investigate the cause of the error in detail as soon as possible, and submit a report to the committee.

Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, vice president of the SF&OC, told the Global Times on Wednesday that "he was shocked" to learn such incident occurred again at an international sporting event. 

"I asked the committee to stage strong dissatisfaction and ask for a thorough investigation of the incident, a detailed explanation of the reason for the error and an apology," he said.

"The national anthem symbolizes the dignity and image of our nation. The organizer of the event would be cautious and take necessary steps to identify the correct anthem and flag with the appropriate and official channel," Chu Kar-kin, a veteran current affairs commentator based in Hong Kong and a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Now, the HKSAR government is promoting the "Hello! Hong Kong" campaign to restore and rebuild the city's image in the post-pandemic period, we should take this opportunity to let the world get the knowledge and message of such facts, Chu said.