BEIJING • Chinese badminton superstar Lin Dan has found himself embroiled in an extramarital scandal yesterday, even though he has admitted and apologised for his transgression.
Intimate photos of Lin and a "mystery woman" were posted on Weibo yesterday, less than two weeks after his wife, Xie Xingfang, gave birth to a baby boy in Beijing on Nov 5.
The golden couple of badminton, Xie, 35, a two-time world champion, and Lin have been together for 12 years and got married in 2012.
The photos were posted by "Detective Zhao", a popular Weibo celebrity gossip writer, who claimed that the images were taken last month.
Chinese netizens immediately drew their attention to the photos and posted tens of thousands of comments.
There were varied opinions, however, with some saying: "I'm really so disappointed that my idol did such a shameful thing" while others replied: "It doesn't change all the glories he won for the country."
As a man, I do not make any excuses for myself. But my actions have hurt my family and I hereby apologise.
LIN DAN, in a message posted on Weibo.
Lin, 33, promptly apologised on his Weibo account with a message written in Mandarin: "As a man, I do not make any excuses for myself. But my actions have hurt my family and I hereby apologise."
According to Chinese media, the woman in the photos was identified as Liaoning native Zhao Yaqi, a Chinese model and actress who was Miss Tourism of the Globe runner-up in 2009.
Detective Zhao also revealed that the photos were of Lin and Zhao sharing an intimate session in a hotel room in Guangdong last month.
Lin was in the city to compete in the national team championships while Xie was in Beijing to prepare for the birth of their child.
In Zhao's Oct 11 post, a photo of a staff pass taken inside the tournament venue was uploaded - an indication that she was present to watch Lin in action.
Her latest post, which has gathered more than 250,000 comments, included a cryptic message that translates to: "There is a never-ending journey in life, we can't finish all the beer nor sing all the songs, we can't foresee the future... but we can live in the moment."
Lin is one of China's biggest and most-liked sports stars, having won the badminton world championships men's singles title five times.
He was also the first men's singles player to win consecutive Olympic gold medals when he followed up his Beijing 2008 triumph with the title at London 2012.
However, Lin left Rio de Janeiro earlier this year empty-handed and is now third in the world rankings, behind Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei and compatriot Chen Long.
The 33-year-old is the latest high-profile sport star to be involved in an extramarital scandal.
Over the past decade, former world No. 1 golfer Tiger Woods and football icon David Beckham were also caught in such affairs.
England football star Wayne Rooney cheated on his pregnant wife, Coleen, with a prostitute back in 2010.
The current England captain was in yet another controversy on Wednesday, when he apologised to interim manager Gareth Southgate after images "inappropriate for someone in his position" were published.
The 31-year-old was alleged to be drunk, according to The Sun, when he gatecrashed a wedding party over the weekend at a Watford hotel where the England team were staying prior to Tuesday's 2-2 friendly draw with Spain.