Chinese table tennis star calls for privacy amid fandom culture
Published: Oct 15, 2023 08:33 PM
Chinese table tennis players Sun Yingsha (right) and Wang Chuqin (left) Photos: VCG

Chinese table tennis players Sun Yingsha (right) and Wang Chuqin (left) Photo: VCG

Chinese table tennis star Wang Chuqin took to social media on Saturday night to voice his concerns about the excessive behavior of fans, calling for them to resist paparazzi-like behavior and respect the privacy of athletes. 

"I truly don't wish for everyone to spend a long time waiting and following and taking pictures of us at airports, training facilities and hotels," Wang said in the statement. Wang is currently the world's No.1 men's singles table tennis player. 

"These behaviors have created disorder in public places and severely impacts our daily lives," he noted.

Wang also emphasized his desire to eliminate the practice of "daipai," where fans follow celebrities closely in a manner reminiscent of paparazzi. 

"I especially hope that everyone can resolutely avoid such behavior," Wang said.

"On the field, I am an athlete; off the field, I am just an ordinary person. I hope everyone can respect each other's privacy, maintain a certain distance, and give me some breathing space," reads the statement.

Wang's statement came in response to a trending video on the Chinese X-like platform Sina Weibo. In the video, Wang was seen walking at the airport, closely trailed by someone filming him. He questioned, "Could you stay a little farther away from me?" "Don't you have anything else to do?"

The video quickly circulated on social media, and many netizens expressed their support for Wang's plea, saying that athletes deserve their own private space and should not be subjected to the same obsessive attention seen in fandom culture. Such behavior disrupts the traffic flow and normal airport operations.

This is not the first time that members of the Chinese national table tennis team have had to grapple with "crazed" fans.

In April, as Olympic-award winner Fan Zhendong prepared for the WTT (World Table Tennis) Contender tournament held in Xinxiang, Central China's Henan Province, he posted a statement on social media revealing that a woman had stalked him for several days, identified his hotel room and obtained his room card through hotel reception, and entered his room without authorization when he was out. Fan eventually reported the woman to police.

In the statement, Fan also called for fans to stay rational, respect boundaries and resist fandom culture. 

In September 2021, the Chinese Olympic Committee released a statement, calling on Chinese athletes to refrain from organizing or participating in fan clubs, initiating or participating in various related discussions, and to vigorously combat the spread of fandom culture within the sports community.

At the recently concluded Hangzhou Asian Games, Wang clinched four gold medals, defeating Fan in the men's singles final. His performance continued as he secured the men's singles title at the WTT Star Contender Lanzhou event, defeating Ma Long 4-2. Wang's recent success led to his reclamation of the top spot in the latest world rankings, holding a 15-point lead over Fan. This marks the second time this year that Wang has ascended to the world No.1 spot in men's singles.