Fanfare, controversy swirls round Chinas Gu on eve of debut – Reuters

2022 Beijing Olympics – Freestyle Snowboarding – Males’s and Girls’s Official Coaching – Huge Air Shougang, Beijing, China – February 6, 2022. Gu Ailing Eileen of China in motion throughout coaching. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

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BEIJING, Feb 6 (Reuters) – U.S.-born Chinese language skier Eileen Gu’s highly-anticipated Winter Olympics sporting debut has attracted a surge of reward and a focus from Chinese language followers and state media but in addition recent uncomfortable questions within the nation over her nationality.

The 18-year-old vogue mannequin and incoming Stanford College pupil has since early on been thought-about Group China’s greatest recognized winter athlete.

Nonetheless, the fanfare round Gu has intensified since she arrived in Beijing in late January due to a mixture of native media protection and her personal savvy social media use.

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“Freestyle ski star Gu Ailing an excellent idol amongst Chinese language younger folks for representing true spirit of sport,” nationalist tabloid World Instances wrote in a headline on Thursday which referred to her Chinese language identify.

Gu, who first competed for China aged 15 and is a favorite to win Olympic gold, is competing in three freestyle disciplines on the Video games — halfpipe, Huge Air and slopestyle.

Her first occasion is scheduled to be the ladies’s freeski Huge Air qualifying session on Monday.

Gu’s entrance row spot within the Chinese language athletes delegation on the opening ceremony to her selection of a dumpling meal when she arrived in Beijing are amongst Gu-related subjects which have trended closely on Chinese language social media in current weeks.

Her following on China’s Weibo platform has ballooned by tons of of hundreds to 1.7 million customers in a month.

Chinese language media have additionally targeted on her fluent Mandarin, Eurasian options — Gu was born to a Chinese language mom and American father — proud embrace of Chinese language tradition and tutorial prowess as causes for her recognition with China’s public.

“Add oil, large sister!,” stated one in all shut to five,000 feedback left on her newest publish about her look on the opening ceremony on Xiaohongshu, a Chinese language social media app resembling Instagram. “We’re watching the Olympics for you!” stated one other.


The thrill round Gu has not been with out controversy, nevertheless, notably over her resolution in 2019 to change groups and characterize China after years of competing for the US, the place she was born and raised.

On Wednesday, Fox Information host Tucker Carlson known as Gu’s resolution “dumb” and stated it deserved “collective revulsion” from the American public.

However whereas native Chinese language media have shied away from the topic, the highlight on Gu has prompted Chinese language social media customers to query if she gave up U.S. citizenship to characterize China at Beijing 2022. China doesn’t permit twin nationality.

The hashtag “Gu Ailing’s nationality” noticed a sudden surge of curiosity from Feb. 2-Four on Weibo, racking up tons of of hundreds of views.

“Most British-Chinese language preserve their PRC passports, however they’re very cautious and frightened of being caught as a result of their (PRC) passports could be lower up… The dignity of the regulation in comparison with Winter Olympic gold, which is extra valuable?” wrote consumer Tomson.

However a lot of Gu’s followers have defended her.

“Who cares whether or not she is a twin nationwide or not!,” wrote consumer mynameisliuxiaohun. “Regardless she is popping out to characterize China, she is carrying the Chinese language flag! The glory she will get is China’s, who else? Is not this good?”

Tom Yaps, Gu’s sports activities agent, stated the skier was not out there for interviews on account of her busy competitors schedule. He didn’t reply to questions despatched by Reuters.


Such has been the hype surrounding Gu that a lot of her Chinese language followers have begun to pre-emptively name for understanding ought to {the teenager} underperform.

“To each particular person worshipping her, if the consequence after the competitors doesn’t meet your expectations I hope you will not flip round and assault her,” wrote consumer hundengdu, attaching the hashtag “Gu Ailing’s first efficiency”, which had already accrued over 250 million views on Sunday.

The anxiousness on Weibo has additionally been pushed by U.S.-born Chinese language determine skater Zhu Yi’s last-place efficiency on Sunday, the place she tumbled to the ice on her first mixture. read more

Whereas many rejected the comparability, pointing to Gu’s report of gold medals, together with world titles, others expressed concern about what the outpouring of criticism in direction of Zhu meant for Gu.

“These trashy folks attacking Zhu Yi are literally growing the emotional burden on Gu Ailing, I hope Zhu Yi and Gu Ailing don’t take a look at their telephones in these subsequent two days and give attention to the competitors,” consumer Liu Jiayi wrote.

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Reporting by Eduardo Baptista; Modifying by Ken Ferris

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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