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Chen Qingchen pictured during the badminton women’s doubles final against Indonesia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photo: Reuters

Tokyo Olympics: Chinese shuttler’s foul mouth prompts South Korea to lodge official complaint with world badminton body

  • Badminton women’s doubles world No 2 Chen Qingchen was repeatedly heard yelling expletives during a group match and semi-final against South Korea
  • The 24-year-old blamed ‘bad pronunciation’ for any offence caused, without explaining what the word was she had supposedly mispronounced
South Korea’s national badminton body is filing a complaint with the Badminton World Federation (BWF) over Chinese player Chen Qingchen, who was heard repeatedly yelling profanities during matches against South Korean players at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The 24-year-old Chen, ranked No 2 in the world by the BWF, could be heard shouting expletives in Mandarin that carry a similar meaning to saying f*** in English during a group stage women’s doubles match at the Games on July 27.

She first used the word after her and her doubles’ partner, Jia Yifan, lost their opening set against South Korea’s Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong, and then again after each point the Chinese pair scored.

Chen Qingchen, left, and Jia Yifan pose with their silver medals after losing the badminton women’s doubles final against Indonesia on August 2. Photo: Reuters

China beat South Korea 2-1 in the group stage match, but this did not cause Chen to moderate her language – she was heard using the offensive term again during a later semi-final match against South Korea on July 31 that China also won.

An official from the Badminton Korea Association told This Week In Asia that the Korean athletes were not distracted by the swearing because they did not know what it meant at the time, “but expletives were heard clearly throughout the live-streamed matches,” he said. “They were heard all the more clearly as there were no spectators”.

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The BWF code of conduct states that players should not use “words commonly known and understood in any language to be profane or indecent and uttered clearly and loudly enough to be heard by the umpire or spectators”.

Footage of the match would be sent to the sport’s world governing body alongside the complaint, the Badminton Korea Association official said. “She did not swear directly in the face of her opponents but she clearly broke sporting ethics,” he said. “We cannot sit idly by as it is too obvious that expletives were used.”

In a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, Chen blamed “bad pronunciation” for the “misunderstandings” and said she was only shouting for “self-encouragement”. She did not elaborate on what the word was she had supposedly mispronounced.

It is unknown what punishment – if any – Chen might face, though another Korean badminton official was quoted in the JoongAng newspaper as saying they expected her to be “at least” fined.

In South Korea, will growing anti-China views come between Seoul and Beijing?

Clips showing Chen’s outbursts have been widely shared on social media in both South Korea, where users bemoaned the unsportsmanlike behaviour, and China, where the reaction has been more mixed.

Some Chinese fans said they felt ashamed, while others celebrated hearing the “great and beautiful Chinese words” that would not normally be allowed to air on television in China outside of a live broadcast.

Korean and Chinese social media users have been embroiled in a series of online arguments since late last year over a number of cultural touchstones, including the origins of the fermented vegetable dish kimchi and traditional clothing known in South Korea as hanbok .
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: S Korea complains over Chen’s foul mouth