IIHF apologizes for incident involving wrong Chinese national anthem played at Hong Kong match
Published: Mar 02, 2023 12:07 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:

Following an incident involving the wrong Chinese national anthem played at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Ice Hockey World Championship Division III in Bosnia, the IIHF told the Global Times on Thursday that the incident was not intentional but rather an inadvertent error, and the federation apologized for the incident. 

The incident occurred after the Hong Kong team defeated Iran 11-1 in Group B of the competition with the wrong song being 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, led to strong protest by the HKSAR government.

"The IIHF has interviewed the necessary organizing committee staff / volunteers involved in the incident and have determined that the incident was not intentional, but rather an inadvertent error," the federation told the Global Times in an email. The IIHF noted that the incorrect music was interrupted within seconds, with the correct anthem being played shortly thereafter.

On behalf of the IIHF, we would like to apologize that this incident occurred. While the IIHF - along with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) - put safeguards in place to prevent such situations, sometimes the best safeguards still result in accidental errors, the federation said. 

On Wednesday, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government expressed strong dissatisfaction on Wednesday toward the incident, urging the Hong Kong Sports Federation and Olympic Committee (SF&OC) to conduct an in-depth investigation and follow up on the incident.

The SF&OC issued guidelines in November 2022 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.

Together with all the above mentioned the incident was acknowledged at the post game tournament directorate meeting by the president and general secretary of the organizing committee, as well as the IIHF tournament chairperson, the IIHF said. "An apology was made to Team Hong Kong representative at the directorate meeting, and it was immediately accepted," it noted. 

A similar incident occurred at the Rugby Sevens tournament in South Korea in 2022 when the organizers had asked each team to submit recordings of their national anthem beforehand. As they did not find the file submitted by the Hong Kong team, the staff googled it and downloaded the one at the top of search results.

In November 2022, the HKSAR government made solemn representations to the technology giant, asking it to place China's correct national anthem "March of the Volunteers" as the top search term after inputting the keywords "Hong Kong" and "national anthem," rather than the song linked to the social turmoil in Hong Kong in 2019.

However, Google denied the HKSAR government's request and reportedly said it could not do anything as the search result is based on an algorithm without any human input.