China’s star swimmer Sun Yang is losing support as he awaits his appeal with the Swiss Federal Tribunal, with his global supporters group disbanding and social media users unfollowing the Olympic champion. The Sun Yang Global Support Association announced its intention to dissolve in a post on Weibo, written by a user named “Novak_ark”. “For some time there has been a lot of criticism on the internet for Sun Yang fans, we sincerely accept that. To all those who have been forced to pay attention to fan behaviour and persecution, we sincerely apologise and decide to disband the support group. “Under the premise of Sun Yang’s public voice causing cyber bullying, stirring up nationalism, and violent resistance to inspection, here we would like to say sorry to the Chinese people and all athletes.” Sun’s fans had targeted his long-time rival and critic Mack Horton on social media, although many since apologised following February’s Court of Arbitration for Sport verdict banning him for eight years. Horton’s family also spoke of a campaign of intimidation that saw the family home in Melbourne broken into and glass put in the swimming pool, alongside nuisance phone calls, website hacking and death threats. “We feel guilty about not being able to guide fans effectively” and describing “recent acts of irrational behaviour” as a “wake up call”. ‘I can’t go lower than zero’ – CAS lawyer ranks Sun Yang’s performance They also listed seven points for fans to follow, including no longer lying about Sun or violating morals to defend him, to accept criticism and denounce his illegal activities. Further to that they also apologised “to all those who have been threatened and cursed, to all the people who have been misled and deceived, and to the party and the country” adding they will “focus on rules, laws and self-reflection”. An announcement to confirm the official end of the group would follow in due course, they said. Sun’s official Weibo account has seen 360,000 followers leave during the last two months, although he still has more than 33.7 million followers on the microblogging site. His China supporters group also remains active online. Chinese internet responds to Horton family’s ‘abuse’ by Sun Yang fans The swimmer has not posted on the site since he was banned for eight years and has taken no interviews but news of his appeal continues to dominate Chinese media. The swimmer has lodged an appeal with the Swiss Federal Tribunal with a case being established for the appeal. However, a press officer for the SFT said on Thursday that “no decision has been made” and the appeal could yet be dismissed by the court. Sun was named in China’s Olympic training squad before the Chinese Swimming Association backtracked, leading to Wada writing to them asking for an explanation. Reporter Yang Wang confirmed on Weibo over the weekend that Sun continues to train alone despite his ban. Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.