Editorial Notes

The label 'traitor' fits no athlete: China Daily

The paper says athletes should have respect from audiences of all countries for their participation in an international competition, no matter the country they represent.

Silver medalist Gu Ailing Eileen celebrates at the end of the Women's Freestyle Skiing Slopestyle final on Feb 15, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It is shocking that Gu Ailing, known in the United States as Eileen Gu, should be called a "traitor" by some US television commentators.

They believe that she should have been representing the United States instead of China at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, since she was born and brought up in the US, and trained there as a freestyle skier. Whatever their arguments, their use of such words as "traitor" or "shameful" or "ungrateful" to describe an Olympic gold medal winner goes too far.

It is not uncommon for athletes to choose a country other than their home country to represent when participating in international sports competitions. When they do so on behalf of the United States, they are not called "traitors" to the countries where they were born by the US TV commentators. It is even more common for former champions to coach national teams other than their home teams.

Renowned Chinese volleyball player Lang Ping once served as the coach of the US women's volleyball team, which achieved good results in world competitions. Very few Chinese used the word "traitor" to describe her.

There are also many Chinese table tennis players who choose to represent other countries in international competitions rather than China where they were born and trained. Sportsmen and sportswomen have the right to choose for themselves which country to represent when they have a choice.

Those who have accused Gu Ailing of being a "traitor" or of being "ungrateful" to the US believe that it is politically incorrect for an excellent athlete born and trained in the US to represent other countries rather than the US.

That they are even more annoyed that Gu chose to participate in the Beijing Winter Olympic Games on behalf of China, which they consider to be a rival of the US, only highlights the extent to which they are willing to take that rivalry.

Behind their narrow-mindedness is their disappointment and anger that anyone should prefer to represent China rather than the US. They consider it a national humiliation. However, it is unreasonable and ill-mannered for them to use such derogatory words as "traitor" and "being ungrateful" to denigrate a personal preference.

Every athlete should have due respect from audiences of all countries for their participation in an international competition no matter which country they choose to represent. The Olympic motto encourages athletes to do their best. It urges them to go higher, to be faster and stronger. It also calls for togetherness.

That some TV commentators have called Gu a "traitor" reflects the reflexive animosities that plague the world today.

Yet that is not the defining narrative of her participation in the Games, for what will endure longer than the vilification is the joy and inspiration she has offered those viewers around the world who are willing to take pleasure in appreciation of her sporting achievements.

  • China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media titles.

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