Former table tennis champion Zhang Jike reportedly involved in defaulting on gambling debts, disseminating private videos; star's camp denies accusation
Published: Apr 03, 2023 12:51 AM
Zhang Jike Photo: Courtesy of SECA

Zhang Jike Photo: Courtesy of SECA

Former Chinese table tennis superstar and multiple-time world champion Zhang Jike has recently been embroiled in a huge controversy as a veteran investigative journalist claimed that the rumor of Zhang being in huge debt for gambling and spreading private videos of his former girlfriend was true. The star’s team responded that the rumor was not true and is preparing to sue the purveyors.
In the past week, rumors about Zhang's alleged criminal activities have been circulating on several online platforms. According to these rumors, Zhang once owed several million yuan in debt due to gambling. To get out of paying the debt, he allegedly sent private videos of his then-girlfriend, also a famous Chinese actress, to the debtor, to allow him to use the videos to collect the debt from the actress.
On Thursday, Zhang's team posted a statement on China’s Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo denying the rumors.
"Zhang does not have any debt dispute, and there is no case of compromising someone's privacy to protect himself. The rumors are pure fabrication," Zhang's team wrote in the statement.
On Friday, Zhang's attorney also released a statement saying an investigation has been started to collect evidence and would file a lawsuit.
Following the two statements, well-known investigative journalist Li Weiao posted on his Sina Weibo account Friday that he had learned that it was true that Zhang had passed others' private videos to a third party and that Zhang had more than 5 million yuan ($727,930) in debt, which he has not yet paid off.
Li also posted a photo of a loan contract, which shows that the name of the borrower is Zhang Jike and the amount is 5 million yuan.
In addition, Li also said that he acknowledge the incident as early as 2020 and subsequently did a detailed investigation. Zhang's issue is not just celebrity gossip, but a serious criminal case, Li said, and urged Zhang to respond publicly.
On Tuesday, Zhang's attorney told the media that they would immediately prepare a lawsuit, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
The incident has sparked a heated discussion on Chinese social media. By Sunday night, the hashtag of the incident had rocketed to the top of Sina Weibo's trending list.
Many netizens took to social media platforms to express their anticipation for an official briefing on the incident. Other netizens emphasized the dangers of gambling and the importance of protecting privacy, while some of Zhang's fans also urged Zhang's team to sue the infringers as soon as possible.
Zhang Jike is among the most notable players in table tennis history and has a major fan base in China. He is a 3-time Olympic gold-medalist, has been crowned world champion seven times and is a six-time ITTF World Cup singles and doubles champion.
Li Weiao is a veteran investigative journalist who has been in the news industry for 20 years. According to public information, he has worked for several prominent Chinese news organizations, and has received several journalism awards.
Global Times