Sun Yang Global Support Association Dissolves With Apology To China, Athletes & All “Who Have Been Misled And Deceived”

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Sun Yang shows his medal to fans at the 2019 World Championships - but some of those fans have since dropped their support for the Chinese swimmer who on February 28, 2020, was suspended for eight years - Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The Sun Yang Global Support Association has announced its intention to close down with a wide-ranging apology to “the Chinese people and all athletes” and “to all those who have been threatened and cursed, to all the people who have been misled and deceived, and to the party and the country”.

The group also commits to “focus on rules, laws and self-reflection”. It’s statement was posted on Weibo, written by a user named “Novak_ark”, as Sun Yang awaits a decision on his appeal with the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) against an eight-year suspension for tampering with an anti-doping-test blood sample during an acrimonious incident with testers near his home in September 2018.

While the decision to dissolve the support group coincides with social media users unfollowing the Olympic champion, the South China Morning Post notes: “Sun’s official Weibo account has seen 360,000 followers leave during the last two months, although he still has more than 33.7 million followers on the microblogging site. His China supporters group also remains active online.”

The Sun Yang Global Support Association’s statement is translated by Jonathan White for his article in the SCMP. It includes:

“For some time there has been a lot of criticism on the internet for Sun Yang fans, we sincerely accept that. To all those who have been forced to pay attention to fan behaviour and persecution, we sincerely apologise and decide to disband the support group.

“Under the premise of Sun Yang’s public voice causing cyber bullying, stirring up nationalism, and violent resistance to inspection, here we would like to say sorry to the Chinese people and all athletes.”

As reports in China note that Sun Yang continues to train privately and not as a member with the Olympic training program after an invitation for him to do so was withdrawn by the Chinese Swimming Association, the support group urged Sun’s fans to follow a list of seven recommendations, including, as the SCMP puts it, “no longer lying about Sun or violating morals to defend him, to accept criticism and denounce his illegal [sports rules] activities.”

Their apology extended “to all those who have been threatened and cursed, to all the people who have been misled and deceived, and to the party and the country”.

A further announcement confirming the official closure of the group would follow in due course, the statement noted.

The support group’s decision follows a feature in the Weekend Magazine of The Australian newspaper in which Sun’s fans were cited as having targeted his long-time rival and critic Mack Horton, the 2016 Olympic 400m freestyle champion. Many have issued social-media apologies since a Court of Arbitration for Sport decision on February 28 to side with a request from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for the Chinese swimmer to serve an eight-year suspension.

In The Australian magazine feature, the Horton family spoke of a campaign of intimidation that included death threats and glass shards being placed at the bottom of a garden pool.

The SFT, meanwhile, is yet to arrive at a decision, in a Sun Yang appeal considered in a recent column penned by a member of the FINA Legal Commission.

 

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