South Korea plans to pursue a formal complaint in response to a Chinese Olympian who was heard repeatedly swearing during a badminton match between the two nations.
Chen Qingchen, 24, could be heard shouting a popular Chinese slang term, translated loosely as “f**k” in Mandarin, throughout the live televised broadcast of her women’s doubles match against South Korea on Tuesday, July 27.
Chen was heard first yelling the phrase after she and her partner, Jia Yifan, lost the first set to their South Korean opponents.
Both Chinese players then repeated the phrase for every winning point during the remainder of the match, eventually winning 2-1 against South Korea’s Kim Soyeong and Kong Heeyong. The Chinese duo went on to advance to the finals of the competition, claiming silver after losing to Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu on Monday.
Chen’s outburst has been covered extensively by South Korean media, prompting widespread and often critical commentary accusing the Chinese Olympian of unsporting behavior.
By contrast, many in China have reacted to Chen’s expletive-fueled performance with amusement. On Weibo, China’s heavily censored version of Twitter, users praised Chen for her highly competitive spirit.
“Hahaha, it’s OK Chen! We need to lift the spirits!” read one popular Weibo post. “Keep doing it. It sounds beautiful! It’s our national treasure,” read another.
On Tuesday, South Korea’s national badminton association told CNN it planned to lodge a formal complaint with the World Badminton Federation (WBF) over the incident. The WBF did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Amid the controversy, Chen acknowledged that some had been offended by her actions, which she described as a means of motivation during the hard-fought contest. “Actually, it was just self-encouragement for winning points,” Chen posted on Weibo. “I will adjust my pronunciation,” she said.
The phrase, though considered impolite, is commonly used in China to express astonishment or amazement – and doesn’t carry the same stigma as its English language equivalent.
Chen is not the only Chinese athlete to use the phase during Tokyo 2020. It is also used regularly by Chinese weightlifting gold medalist Shi Zhiyong during his daily training routines, so much so, that some fans have turned his outbursts into popular memes on Chinese social media.