The lovers’ texts, the online trolls and the targeting of a champion Chinese gymnast
- An Olympic gold medallist has become the recipient of online scorn for allegedly having an affair with her friend’s husband
Chinese internet users are targeting another celebrity over allegations of an extramarital affair, this time a retired champion gymnast who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the country’s best-known athletes.
The trolling began late last week after a user published a series of text messages on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, claiming that a gold-medal-winning gymnast had been having an affair with her friend’s husband, seducing him and setting her friend up to force her to get divorced.
Chinese internet users soon associated the texts with Jiang Yuyuan, former leader of the women’s gymnastics team and gold medallist, alleging that she was having an affair with her friend’s husband.
The identities of the recipient and sender of the texts have not been verified.
Jiang, who comes from a blue-collar family, joined the national women’s team in 2002 and won her first gold medal in the 2007 FIG Gymnastics World Cup. She went on to success in international competitions, including a gold in the team event at the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing. She led the women’s team in 2010 and retired in 2013.
Not long after the post went viral online, a Weibo user with an unverified account and claiming to be a “coach for the Guangdong gymnastics team” shared the post and commented, “tearing a family apart for the pleasure of one individual”. The user is believed to be Tang Jian, the friend whose trust Jiang allegedly betrayed.
A couple of days later, the Weibo user wrote another post, thanking the public for their support. She also said she was upset that the incident had showed Chinese gymnastics in a bad light, and apologised to those in gymnastics, begging for understanding and forgiveness.
“That person’s moral standards and actions are quite personal and don’t represent those of all gymnasts,” the user wrote.
Many commenters on the posts condemned Jiang for alleged behaviour, accusing her of destroying a friend’s life.
Jiang has not responded to the claims and her Weibo account is closed for comments. Her last post showed a few photos at a national conference for women’s representatives in November.
Chinese netizens are known for their low tolerance for extramarital affairs. In scandal involving married celebrities, the xiaosan, or the second woman in the affair, is often the first target for online criticism.
That was the case after actress Chen Yulin revealed that had a seven-year affair with romantic comedy star Wu Xiubo.
Chen’s parents claimed online that he had promised Chen a “break-up fee” but instead of paying it in full, reported her to the police, accusing her of blackmail. According to the parents, Chen is in detention in Beijing.
Though some Weibo users expressed sympathy for Chen, most commenters on social media sided with Wu and his wife, saying this is what happened to those who broke up marriages.