Will she, won’t she? No guarantees yet on Olympic star Fu Yuanhui’s inclusion in Chinese gold medal delegation visit to Hong Kong
Whether or not she joins, fans in the city urged by government to focus on sports, show respect to others, and not to ‘mix it with other thoughts’
Hong Kong sports fans will have to wait and see if popular mainland swimmer Fu Yuanhui will be among the delegation of Chinese Olympic medallists which will visit the city later this month, as officials from both sides gave no indication either way.
Director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department Michelle Li Mei-sheung said the government and the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong were aware that fans expected to see her.
Fu, 20, became an internet sensation when her funny expressions and goofy personality came through in a candid TV interview after she finished third in the 100 metre backstroke final.
Li said: “We will certainly raise this with the Chinese Olympic Committee after the Rio Olympics. At present the Games are not yet finished and we do not know who will be on the delegation.”
But she said past experience suggested the group would only comprise gold medallists.
Fu is a bronze medal winner.
The three-day visit, starting August 27, will feature ping-pong and diving demonstrations in Queen Elizabeth Stadium and Victoria Park, as well as a meet and greet session for young people in Ma On Shan.
There will be a variety show on August 28 at the stadium.
The medallists will also visit Hong Kong Sports Institute to meet local athletes.
The visit coincides with the tense Hong Kong-mainland relations in the wake of rising calls for independence in the city.
Observers have noted the sensitive timing of this visit, but Li urged people to focus on sports and show respect to others.
“Sports is sports. Let’s concentrate on sports and show respect [to the athletes]. Let’s not mix it with other thoughts,” she said.
No pro-independence or localist groups the Post contacted had planned any protest during the visit.
Jason Chow Ho-fai, spokesman for the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, said: “I think we have more important things to do. We are campaigning for the setting up of more student concern groups in schools to promote the idea of independence.”
It is common for the Chinese Olympic gold medal winners to visit Hong Kong after the Games.
And the trip this time is about a week before the Legislative Council elections on September 4.
In 2004, hurdler Liu Xiang and diver Guo Jingjing were among 50 athletes to visit the city. Liu also sang during a show at the Hong Kong Stadium. Badminton superstar Lin Dan visited in 2008, whilst diver Wu Minxia and swimmer Sun Yang came in 2012.
Fu, who was largely unknown to Hongkongers before the games, got hundreds of thousands of new online followers after her interviews spread online.
She has also been praised for breaking taboo, when she openly discussed a dip in form due to menstrual cramps.