Sports

War of words: Badminton Korea Association unhappy about Chinese player’s cursing at Tokyo 2020

(CNN) — South Korea’s Badminton Korea Association plans to pursue a formal complaint with the World Badminton Federation (WBF) regarding China’s Chen Qingchen’s cursing during an Olympic match at Tokyo 2020, the organization has told CNN.

Chen, who was heard cursing liberally in the broadcast Olympic matches, has won the hearts of many in her home country, even though the South Korean public has expressed discontent.

The controversy has been extensively reported by South Korean media, prompting widespread — and often critical — commentary.

By contrast, many Chinese people reacted to Chen’s outbursts in the highly competitive event with amusement on social media.

Chen, 24, was relatively unknown until a clip of her shouting “wo cao” — a rough equivalent of “f**k”​ lit up Chinese social media last week.

She started yelling the common, but impolite phrase incessantly and passionately, seemingly as a way to pick herself up, after she and her partner — Jia Yifan — lost the first set to the South Korean players in a women’s doubles match.

The Chinese duo then repeated the phrase for every winning point in the rest of the contest, winning the match 2-1 against South Korea’s Kim Soyeong and Kong Heeyong on July 27 in a group match. The Chinese duo also beat the South Korean pair 2-0 in the semifinals.

Amid the controversy, Chen acknowledged that some had been offended.

“Actually, it was just self-encouragement for winning points,” Chen posted on Weibo. “I will also adjust my pronunciation,” she said, seemingly in reference to a slight variation of the word that is perceived to be more family-friendly.

Chen and her partner appeared to use the word cao in subsequent badminton matches. Eventually, they took the silver in the event.

Albeit vulgar by some standards, the phrase similar to “oh sh*t” is casually used to express astonishment or amazement.

Some applauded her genuine approach in a world sporting event, which is a deviation from the image of traditionally taciturn Chinese athletes.

Chen is not the only Chinese athlete using the phase. It is also used regularly by Chinese weightlifting gold medalist Shi Zhiyong in his daily training that his fans are making memes of it.

The WBF did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

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