Losing at the Olympics is a surefire way to win among China’s patriots.
On Aug. 9, Chinese boxer Lu Bin fought a match against Kenya’s Peter Mungai Warui as part of the light flyweight competition. As the referee prepared to announce the fight’s winner, Lu raised his fist in anticipation of a victory. And when Warui was declared the winner, Lu continued to celebrate as if he had earned the triumph himself.
Global media outlets including Buzzfeed and Business Insider wrote pieces mocking Lu for the gaffe. But he’s found legions of defenders in his home country, who believe Lu’s loss is yet another example of the anti-China bias among athletes and judges at the Olympics.
On Weibo, China’s Twitter-esque social network, Lu sent out a message after the match stating (link in Chinese, registration required) “the judge has stolen my dream.” The message has since been shared more than 140,000 times on the social network.
Commenters using the hashtag “Lu Bin faced a controversial judgment” have lamented the boxer’s loss and accused the Olympic committee of unfairly judging China’s athletes.
“Everyone is crying over this boxing match. Is it too much to ask to judge fairly? The conduct of this competition is pitiful, I hope China sues,” wrote one commenter. “I wish we can take real action to prove that China is not easy to bully.”
CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, also weighed in. A short segment aired after the fight featuring interviews with foreign spectators, all of whom said that Lu should have won. The segment closes with a reference to a recent Guardian piece suggesting that Rio’s boxing judges might be embroiled in a corruption ring.
Lu’s loss is just one in a series of incidents that have stirred up anger among Chinese nationalists. When Australian swimmer Mack Horton called Chinese swimmer Sun Yang a “drug cheat” last week, China’s state media outlets published a barrage of negative news articles about Australia, while armies of Chinese internet trolls stormed the athlete’s Instagram account.