Anti-mainland China sentiments

Booing the national anthem at a gymnastics performance? That’s not going to happen, say organisers

With booing still ringing in the ears of local soccer officials, gymnastics counterparts are confident the two-day extravaganza at Queen Elizabeth Stadium will go off without a hitch

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 October, 2017, 7:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 October, 2017, 7:22pm

Organisers of the National Gymnastics Extravaganza are confident that the China national anthem saga that saw local fans boo at international soccer matches recently, will not be an issue on Saturday when the performance kicks off at Queen Elizabeth Stadium on Saturday.

The two-day event, which features top gymnasts from the mainland such as newly crowned world champion Fan Yilin, will take place at the 3,000 seat Wan Chai arena during the weekend, with tickets almost sold out.

“This is one of the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the unification with the motherland and it is logical to play the China national anthem before the event,” said Hong Kong Gymnastics Association chairperson Cheung Siu-yin. “We heard what happened in soccer recently but we are welcoming our gymnastic fans and I don’t think they would be a problem.

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“Of course, we cannot stop them if someone really want to do so [boo], but we consider the gymnastic fans a group of rational people who come to the event to support Chinese gymnasts who have been performing very well on the international stage.”

The performance will be headed by Chinese men’s team captain Zhang Chenglong and Fan, who successfully defended her title in the women’s uneven bars at the World Championships in Montreal less than a fortnight ago.

Other participants are Shang Chunsong, Mao Yi, Wang Yan and Tan Jiaxin, all members of the Chinese women’s team that won a team all-around bronze medal at the Rio Olympics last summer.

The men’s team members also include Lin Chaopan, You Hao and Deng Shudi who along with Zhang, took a bronze in the team all-around in Rio. Hong Kong will also send a team of eight gymnasts for the performance, headed by 2014 Asian Games men’s vault gold medallist Shek Wai-hung.

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Fan, 17, remained upbeat for the Tokyo Olympic Games after boosting her confidence with victory in Montreal.

“Physically I will get more mature for the Tokyo Games which means I will have plenty of room for improvement in my routines,” she said. “The World Championships in Montreal was the first major test leading up to Tokyo and I will put more effort in my training in the coming three years in order to do well at my second Olympics.”