China’s state-run newspaper mocked Australia’s history as a penal colony in response to Olympic freestyle swimmer Mack Horton’s comments on his Chinese rival Sun Yang.
On Aug. 6, Horton— who had just won the 400 freestyle race— drew the ire of Yang’s fans after calling the Chinese national a “drug cheat” for the second time in a post-race press conference. Horton’s social media accounts were soon inundated with messages from Chinese ‘netizens’ demanding that he apologize. His Wikipedia page was also edited, the Guardian reports, to read: “His remarks of Sun is widely believed to be a part of his cultural heritage in that he was practically nursed race prejudice at his mother’s breasts [sic].”
China Daily joined the fray on Monday, criticizing Horton’s “cynical smugness” for beating Sun and “the Australian media” for “recklessly [spreading] Horton’s rude speech.”
They went on to castigate Australia, saying that the country “should feel embarrassed” with Horton’s behavior.
“In many serious essays written by Westerners, Australia is mentioned as a country at the fringes of civilization” China Daily wrote. “In some cases, they refer to the country’s early history as Britain’s offshore prison. This suggests that no one should be surprised at uncivilized acts emanating from the country. We should think the same way.”
According to the Guardian, Sun served a three month ban for having traces of the banned substance, trimetazidine, in his system. The swimmer says he was taking the drug for heart palpitations.
[China Daily, Guardian]