China's Communist Party Paper Blasts 'Capricious' Athletes Li, Sun
China Communist party paper The People’s Daily has started a heated debate about whether Chinese athletes represent the nation after criticizing tennis player LI NA and world-record-holding swimmer SUN YANG for being “overly prima donna-ish,” according to Patrick Boehler of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. The People's Daily wrote on Monday, "Who can restrain this terrible capriciousness?" Sun "was criticised by the paper for falling out with his long-time coach ZHU ZHIGEN, casting doubt over his participation" at the World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona in July. Meanwhile, Li "has provoked ire amongst Chinese sports pundits and nationalists after frequent remarks that she owes her success to her own efforts." The People's Daily wrote, "These accomplishments are not a sufficient excuse for these two iconic Chinese athletes to turn their personality into capriciousness." The paper also called for a “bottom line” to their erratic behavior. Since then, the question "has snowballed online into a debate that dominated Chinese microblogs" on Wednesday. The role of athletes "has changed in China," argued the Guangdong-based Southern Metropolis Daily, criticizing the People’s Daily in an editorial. It wrote they "should not be burdened by expectations by ‘the nation’ or ‘the people'" (SCMP, 7/3).