Chinese diplomats were offended and incensed when Reuters ran with what they felt was a very unflattering photo of Olympic weightlifting gold medalist Zhihui Hou taken as she grimaced while cinching the win for China, calling the media “ugly” and “shameless.”
“Among all the photos of the game, @Reuters has chosen this one, which only shows how ugly they are,” the Chinese embassy of Sri Lanka tweeted on Saturday in response to the photo by Reuters. The media outlet reported on Hou, 24, winning the gold medal in the women’s 49 kg weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympics.
“Don’t put politics and ideologies above sports, and call yourself an unbiased media organization. Shameless,” the embassy’s tweet angrily concluded.
China’s state-sanctioned media outlet the Global Times reported on the “controversial photo” on Sunday, accusing Western media organizations of “unfairly targeting China” in their Olympics coverage.
(Video Credit: NBC Sports)
The embassy went on to accuse Reuters of racism: “Same day, same Olympics, same @Reuters, different faces. Maybe it’s because everything good in life comes easier for the white westerners? We said that these biased MSM are ugly. Never the athletes. They’re beautiful, no matter their colors and nationalities.”
Pls respect Olympics spirit @Reuters! Chinese embassy @ChinaEmbSL slammed Reuters' selection of an ugly photo of weightlifting gold winner Hou Zhihui. "Don't put politics and ideologies above sports, and call yourself an unbiased media organization. Shameless," the embassy posted pic.twitter.com/lIOWLOhdfj
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) July 25, 2021
Journalist Munza Mushtaq had a different take on the contentious photo.
“I think its a well captured photograph, which shows nothing good in life comes easy. Its upto the person viewing the picture to interpret it, but most will appreciate this. Its quite sad that the embassy finds this ‘ugly.’ If it was a beauty pageant then its a different matter,” Mushtaq tweeted.
Same day, same Olympics, same @Reuters , different faces. Maybe it's because everything good in life comes easier for the white westerners?
— Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka (@ChinaEmbSL) July 24, 2021
China won three gold medals on the first day of the Tokyo Olympics.
Hou broke the Olympic records in all three of her categories including snatch, clean, and jerk, and totaled the lift with 210 kg, which is three kilos short of her own world record. She holds the world record with 96 kg in snatch as well. China handily beat both Indian and Indonesian medalist rivals.
It's all over! 🏋️
— Olympics (@Olympics) July 24, 2021
India’s Mirabai Chanu, who lifted 202 kg, took the silver at the Tokyo International Forum. Indonesia’s Windy Cantika Aisah took the bronze after lifting 194 kg.
Hou’s gold medal helped finally resolve the disappointment of 2016 when a knee injury forced her to miss the Rio Olympics.
“I felt very happy when I finally made it,” proclaimed Hou. “In one second all the stress disappeared. I prepared for five years so it means a lot to me.”
“I just wanted to enjoy the Games. I don’t care about the world record or something,” she stated. “I just want to be myself, be all of myself.”
Hou is being detained in Tokyo on suspicion of doping and is being tested before heading back to China. It could cost her the gold medal if it is found that she tests positive for a banned substance.
The Olympic rules clearly state that if an athlete fails the doping test, then the athlete who has won the silver medal will be awarded the gold. That development would be far more humiliating than the Reuters photo.
The ratings for the Tokyo Olympics this year hit a 33-year low as “woke” politics dominated the coverage. China is apparently also introducing accusations of racism into the mix.
China’s attack against Reuters was not well-received on social media:
Chinese officials slam western media for 'shameless' photo of weightlifter Hou Zhihui
Seems China wants to interfere with everything these days, nothing seems to make them happy, and they are the one's bringing politics into the games.Shame on them! pic.twitter.com/RkdmxmwAcX
— terrian carbonbased (@terrian170) July 27, 2021
Hou Zhihui just won a Gold medal & the UGLY CRUEL DISGUSTING comments from the Chinese Embassy have ruined her experience for the rest of her life. They should be congratulating her on her win not shaming her with their comments. Well done Hou Zhihui 🥇
— L McD (@Storm10Luna0) July 27, 2021
Can't see what the fuss is about on the China side about the photo of Hou Zhihui put out upon her stupendous win at the Tokyo Olympics. It shows the concentration, effort and the extraordinary feat she accomplished. What a champion!
— sylvie mckay (@sivviem) July 27, 2021
Wake up and recognize the beauty inherent in athletic achievement – which comes from effort.
If it were easy, you could do it.
You’re focusing on the wrong thing. What’s shameless is your failure to grasp what’s meaningful about the image.
— SeeHear Inc (@SeeHearInc) July 26, 2021
Its strength and determination. It’s the will to win.
It’s beautiful in its own way.
Stop being so pathetic and insecure.
— cantopopped (@cantopopped) July 25, 2021
The perception of ugliness is all yours. Can only assume it’s some cultural bias favoring bland, robot-like smiles that you are demanding others emulate. I think the challenge for you is to understand that others don’t see the ugliness you see.
— Chris George Alexander (@MarsInsider) July 25, 2021
how can let such person handle this embassy’s account?! shame! how dare you say that the photo is ugly? at that moment, this is the most beautiful and powerful face! what do you respect? a sweet smile on her face? and 《china daily》used the same photo, what will you say?
— 羽凰 Aisha Huang (@aisha_huang) July 25, 2021
A champion poured her life into winning gold for the country and you called her ugly.
I think you are so biased about looks, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
— Verbatim HKG 🇭🇰🇹🇼🏅 (@VerbatimHKG) July 25, 2021
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