Social media users on the Chinese platform Weibo are belittling Chinese American Nathan Chen as a “banana,” among other things, reports Bloomberg.
The gold medalist established himself as one of the all-time great ice skaters with his free program on Thursday.
Some called his performance “ape-like” and even mediocre.
Instead, fans in China rallied their support behind the dethroned two-time champion – Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan who enjoys immense popularity in China, according to the South China Morning Post.
“[Hanyu’s] performance had both beauty and power, that’s ballet on ice. What’s his performance like? Like that of an ape,” wrote one about Chen’s performance.
Another called Chen’s free skate the “acrobatics of a circus monkey.”
“What is he doing? It looks like street dance but it’s not, looks like a robot dance but it’s not. What a monkey show,” wrote another netizen.
According to CNN, there is still resentment of Chen for remarks he gave that were critical of China. He backed fellow skater Evan Bates who spoke out against human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.
“I agree with what Evan was saying,” Chen said. “I think that for a greater change to occur, there must be power that is beyond the Olympics.”
Others remember Chen’s choice at the 2018 Olympics to perform to Mao’s Last Dance, a song based on a Chinese dancer who defected to the United States in the 1980’s.
Chen said his choreographer chose the song and that he did not understand its significance.
“Maybe naively, I didn’t understand the whole system, the whole story behind it, just that the music was very beautiful,” he said Friday.
He denied any knowledge of the backlash he has received from China.
“I don’t have social media here. So I probably have been very sheltered from that. And I don’t plan on looking at social since sometimes social (media) can be a little toxic.”
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