Chinese badminton player dies during Asia Junior Championships 2024
Published: Jul 01, 2024 05:06 PM
Zhang Zhijie, a 17-year-old Chinese badminton player, died on Sunday during a game at the Badminton Asia Junior Badminton Championships 2024 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, according to a joint statement by Badminton Asia and the Badminton Association of Indonesia. 

Zhang Zhijie Photo: Xinmin Weekly

Zhang Zhijie Photo: Xinmin Weekly

The young player collapsed on the court when playing against Japanese player Kazuma Kawano during the evening match at the Badminton Asia Junior Badminton Championships 2024. He was rushed to the hospital and died at 23:20 local time on Sunday. 

The tragedy has attracted so much attention in China that Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, said at a press conference on Monday that after learning of the incident, the Consulate-General of China in Surabaya immediately contacted the Indonesian side to coordinate the follow-up work and make sure it was properly handled.

"The consulate has sent personnel to the site of the incident," Mao added. 

"We express our deep regret and condolences to Zhang's family. The ministry will continue to provide guidance to the Consulate-General of China in Surabaya to ensure that the follow-up work is properly carried out within the scope of its duties," she said. 

Wang Xifu, an ER doctor in Guangzhou First People's Hospital and a first-aid training instructor for the American Heart Association, told the Global Times that "After Zhang's falling, nobody rushed in for emergency rescue, and even his coach was called back. When the first responders entered the court, they did not know what to do and did not carry automatic external defibrillator (AED) with them. The team hurriedly carried the athlete away, losing a precious opportunity to rescue th player immediately."

The doctor compared with another case study when Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen fell and got rescued on June 12, 2021. 

"The process for Eriksen's rescue started after merely eight seconds, the team doctor arrived on-site, after 37 seconds, the medical staff arrived with first-aid equipment, 52 seconds after his fall, and AED was carried in the court. The on-site rescue lasted eight minutes and eight seconds. An ambulance-dedicated stretcher entered the court and transferred Eriksen to a hospital. When the stretcher left the court, Eriksen had already opened his eyes," the doctor noted in his post. 

The doctor went on to say that no matter the sport involved, almost all of the players who suffered sudden non-contact convulsions experienced cardiac arrests, and for these cases, first responders must bring AEDs to the field.

"The first aid support in badminton is still quite backward. This should also raise awareness and prompt action among healthcare workers at all sports events to prevent similar tragedies," Wang told the Global Times.

Upon learning the news, Zhang's elder sister shared a post on Weibo, saying that it is difficult for the family to accept the fact. 

"If the coach had performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation as soon as Zhang fell to the ground and had promptly sent him to the hospital, instead of being stopped by the referee, maybe he would have been rescued," she wrote in the post. 

Many netizens, who watched the live broadcast of the game, also observed that after Zhang had fallen to the ground, the people next to him did not immediately start cardiopulmonary resuscitation and that no professional sideline medical team was available on site.

Complaining about the worst outcomes of Indonesia's untimely medical team and poor medical conditions, Zhang's elder sister wrote that after the incident, Zhang's family has been in contact with the coach. 

As of 11:30 am on Monday, 59 million netizens discussed over Zhang's elder sister's post, with 37 media reports covering the story. 

The Chinese Badminton Association released a statement on Monday to express its deep sorrow, and deepest condolences to Zhang's family.

Zhang, who was born on January 30, 2007, loved badminton and was an outstanding athlete of the national youth badminton team, the CBA said. 

"The cause of the disease has not yet been clarified by the hospital, and the CBA continues to contact with the Asian Badminton Federation, the Asian Youth Badminton Championship Organizing Committee and all parties in Indonesia, and new information will be released timely to the public," said the statement. 

Badminton Asia announcement Screenshot of X account @BadmintonAsia

Badminton Asia announcement Screenshot of X account @BadmintonAsia

Badminton Asia and the Badminton Association of Indonesia also expressed their deepest condolences to Zhang's parents and family in the statement. 

"The world of badminton has lost a talented player," it said. 

Global Times