Chinese weightlifter Zhihui Hou was described as 'ugly' by the Chinese diplomats in an action shot released by Reuters after she won a gold in the women's 49-kg weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympics. The controversial image received mixed response on the social media.
Reportedly, Hou has been asked to remain in Tokyo before flying home under the advice of anti-doping officials. India's Mirabai Chanu, who won the silver medal, stands a chance of being upgraded to gold medal if Hou tests positive for a banned substance.
Hou's Photo Causes Upheaval in China
The image that caused an uproar in China shows the 24-year-old weightlifter with a strained expression on her face as she lifts the weights to score a gold on the tally board.
Reacting sharply to the image, the Chinese embassy of Sri Lanka tweeted; "Among all the photos of the game, @Reuters has chosen this one, which only shows how ugly they are. Don't put politics and ideologies above sports, and call yourself an unbiased media organization. Shameless. Respect the spirit of Olympics."
It also included the tweet of Reuters which included the image with a caption; "China's Hou wins 49-kg weightlifting gold at Tokyo Olympics."
Following the tweet, China's state-run newspaper the Global Times also published a story about the "controversial photo" lambasting some Western media organizations claiming them to be "unfairly targeting China" in their Olympics coverage.
Not done with the outburst, the embassy then went on to compare the pictures of other athletes captured by the agency. "Same day, same Olympics, same @Reuters, different faces. Maybe it's because everything good in life comes easier for the white westerners? We said that these biased MSM are ugly. Never the athletes. They're beautiful, no matter their colors and nationalities," it tweeted.
Social Media Responds to Hou's Photo
The photo and China's reaction to it drew mixed response on the social media. "Congratulations to Hou Zhihui on her Gold Medal performance. Years of very hard work have paid off and now she sits at the top of her sport. It appears the only one calling Gold Medalists Hou Zhihui ugly is the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka," tweeted a user.
"Global Times, Chinese Embassy accused @Reuters of throwing shade at their gold medallist Hou Zhihui because "an ugly photo" of the athlete was used. There's nothing ugly about a sportswoman in the middle of performing her best. This was an extremely unsettling post," wrote another user.
"Poor #HouZhihui, being made to look ugly by #China's own state media too, which is clearly putting "politics and ideologies above sports," read another tweet.