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China Daily Website

Behind war of words about Games

Updated: 2012-08-04 21:16
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - The ongoing London Olympics has become a huge topic in China as many express their excitement, anger and grievances through the country's fledgling social media. Behind the war of words is a collision of values among people, which was unusual before Twitter-like sites emerged.

Touted as the first Summer Games with extensive social media involvement, the 2012 Olympics has triggered multiple wars of words on the Internet in China barely a week since the event started.

The opening ceremony caused the first firestorm. Some netizens hailed the London ceremony, saying it was "free, relaxed and touching" and calling what Beijing hosted four years ago just an "upstart luxury show."

However, some expressed disappointment at the London ceremony and defended China's efforts. "The Beijing opening ceremony was extremely spectacular and impressive, while the 2012 ceremony had uncomfortable amounts of quirkiness and disorder," read one post on Sina Weibo, China's most popular Twitter-like service.

While Internet users were divided on London's thrifty opening, they were united in their support of Ye Shiwen when the Chinese teenager swimmer, who in her Olympic debut snatched two golds and set a world record, was questioned over whether she had used drugs.

"Ye faced unfair criticism from the Western media for her stunning success in London, but I wonder why no one accused Michael Phelps of using performance-enhancing drugs when he bagged eight golds four years ago," one Internet user wrote under the name of "happy prince."

Also, netizens unanimously sympathized with weightlifter Wu Jingbiao and bashed the country's common practice of overly emphasizing winning gold medals, after Wu apologized in tears for finishing second behind the surprise Democratic People's Republic of Korea winner of the 56-kilogram division.

"Don't cry, Wu. It's just a game. You are a hero in my eyes no matter if you got a gold medal or a silver one," a netizen surnamed Su wrote in an entry on Sina Weibo.

"The country is too obsessed with Olympic golds. Gold medalists are rewarded far more generously than silver and bronze medal winners. Wu had tried his best, and a silver medal showed he is one of the top weightlifters in the world. He need not apologize at all. Instead, he deserves everyone's respect," another Sino Weibo user wrote.

The expulsion of two Chinese badminton gold-medal contenders also caused much chatter on the country's microblogging sites.

Some said Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, who were disqualified for throwing a match, should not have received such a severe punishment since the rules were "ridiculous." But others supported the decision, saying they apparently "violated the Olympics ideal and the spirit of fair play."

Such different voices expressed through social media show Chinese enjoy sharing their values, and on the other hand, the authorities are more tolerant of different views, said observers.

Social media serves as a stress reliever, where people can release their negative emotions. The popularity of social media will positively guide public opinion, said Lv Benfu, professor with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

For most Chinese who were once reluctant to express themselves in public and inclined to show obedience to the authority, increasing wars of words can be seen as revolutionary progress.