Chinese Scorn US-Born Skater After Fall in Olympics Debut

Some online ask why Zhu Yi is on China's team
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2022 11:20 AM CST
US-Born Skater on China's Team Takes Heat After Collapse
Zhu Yi of China falls in the women's short program team figure skating competition at the Winter Olympics on Sunday in Beijing.   (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

(Newser) – China apparently has censored the social media fury that erupted Sunday after a US-born skater fell and crashed into a wall in her debut for the host Olympic team. Zhu Yi put up the lowest score of the women's short program team event, CNN reports. China fell from third place to fifth, barely qualifying to advance to the next round. "This is such a disgrace," said one online comment that drew 11,000 endorsements. The hashtag #ZhuYiMessedUp on Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter, racked up over 80 million views. But #ZhuYiFellOver, which had 230 million views, was deactivated Sunday afternoon, per AFP.

Spectators cheered as Zhu, 19, took the ice, the first skater on the second day of the team event. But she missed a jump early, fell and hit the wall, then missed another jump. "I'm upset and a little embarrassed," she said afterward. "I guess I felt a lot of pressure because I know everybody in China was pretty surprised with the selection for ladies' singles, and I just really wanted to show them what I was able to do, but unfortunately I didn't." Little sympathy emerged online. "Show me an athlete who doesn't go out there under pressure from their country and people," one post said.

China recruited Zhu, who was born in Los Angeles to Chinese immigrants, for its Olympic team. Her father, Zhu Songchun, is a prominent artificial intelligence scientist who moved from UCLA to Peking University in 2020. Zhu Yi gave up her US citizenship and changed her name from Beverly Zhu, but she's been criticized for not being fluent in the language, as well as for taking a spot on the Olympic team that could have gone to a skater born in China. "Please let her learn Chinese first, before she talks about patriotism," a Weibo post Sunday said. (Read more 2022 Beijing Olympics stories.)

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