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Friday, Jun 09, 2023

Hong Kong athlete signals stop following another anthem blunder at sports event

Hong Kong athlete signals stop following another anthem blunder at sports event

‘Glory to Hong Kong’ played instead of Chinese national anthem at powerlifting event in Dubai; incident follows series of mix-ups at rugby matches.

A protest song from the anti-government unrest in 2019 was wrongly played yet again instead of the Chinese national anthem at an overseas sporting event, this time prompting the participating Hong Kong athlete to make a “T” hand gesture to alert the organiser to the blunder.

The Hong Kong government on Saturday said in a statement that it “strongly deplores and opposes the incident” which occurred at the Asian Classic Powerlifting Championship in Dubai on Friday, adding it had asked the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China to follow up “in a serious manner”.

A video online showed the song “Glory to Hong Kong” was broadcast at the powerlifting tournament during a medal ceremony for athlete Susanna Lin, who won gold. After the 15-second mark, Lin was seen making a “T” sign with her hands, with the Chinese national anthem “March of the Volunteers” being played soon after.

The protest song was played during a medal ceremony at the Asian Classic Powerlifting Championship.

A statement from the Secretariat Press Office of the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau said that an initial report from the Olympic committee found that Lin and the team manager had followed guidelines and responded immediately. As a result, the organiser suspended the ceremony and made a correction, it added.

“The [government] recognises the action taken by the Hong Kong representatives on the spot which upheld national dignity,” the statement said.

“The [government] attaches great importance to the incident and has requested the [Olympic committee] to submit a report as soon as possible, and follow up on the incident in a serious manner.”

The committee said that the Hong Kong Weightlifting and Powerlifting Association had acted according to guidelines, and had provided a recording of “March of the Volunteers” on November 28 for use at the event.

It added it had instructed the association to investigate the incident with the event organiser and the Asian Powerlifting Federation, and also submit a report.

Pui Kwan-kay, honorary vice-president of the committee, said such incidents should be looked into in a serious manner.

“The situation is not ideal. With the high frequency of such blunders lately, we can only remind athletes, coaches and team officials to take more steps to ensure such incidents should not happen,” he said.

After a series of similar blunders at overseas rugby matches, the Hong Kong Sports Federation and Olympic Committee issued guidelines on how athletes should respond if they encountered errors involving the national anthem or the regional flag, including leaving the venue if the issue was not immediately resolved.

“[The] team leader should alert his team members immediately and lead the team members to use their hands to display the sign of ‘T’ for expressing objection to the error made and call for a halt to the proceedings for immediate correction,” the guidelines read.

Ahead of the final of the second leg of the Asian Rugby Sevens Series in Incheon, South Korea on November 13, the song “Glory to Hong Kong” was played instead of “March of the Volunteers”, as the Hong Kong team prepared to take on the hosts.

“Glory to Hong Kong” was written during the 2019 anti-government movement, becoming a protest anthem sung at rallies and by some spectators at football matches.

Two more similar blunders involving the city’s rugby team came to light on November 19.

Footage carried on a popular sports streaming site showed a rugby match on November 6 in Dubai between Portugal and Hong Kong during which the correct music was used, but it was wrongly labelled as “Glory to Hong Kong” in a graphic by a TV station that broadcast the game.

A similar episode also occurred during the broadcast of a match between Hong Kong and Tonga held in Australia on July 23.

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