Hong Kong badminton player Angus Ng Ka-long has said he could not print the HKSAR flag on his jersey without authorisation, after a pro-Beijing politician condemned him for wearing an all-black outfit during his debut at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
In an Instagram post on Sunday, the 27-year-old said he knew a lot of people were concerned about a black jersey he wore a day before, when he competed in his opening group match in the men’s singles event at the quadrennial games.
The local player, who ranks 9th in the world, said he could only print his name on the shirt but not the city’s regional flag, as he did not obtain authorisation to do so. He said he was “proactively handling” the matter, and hoped that he could fix his jerseys before the next game.
“I have always been proud to represent Hong Kong in competitions. Deep down in my heart, I also like this bauhinia flower very much,” Ng said.
“I hope when people are watching the Olympics, they can focus on athletes’ performance, rather than on my shirt… by the way – you may raise criticism, but please figure out what the matter was about before you criticise,” he added.
The badminton player spoke up less than a day after politician Nicholas Muk of the city’s largest pro-Beijing party wrote on Facebook that “strongly condemned” Ng for not competing in a shirt with the HKSAR logo.
“Other team members taking part in the mixed doubles event wore a tidy uniform with the HKSAR flag printed. If [you] don’t want to represent Hong Kong China, please choose to withdraw from the competition,” the DAB Wan Chai branch committee member said.
Muk added a hashtag that read: “Wearing black shirt and black pants to compete is laughable.” The post was later deleted.
Black shirts have been regarded as synonymous with the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests in the eyes of pro-establishment figures and groups. Many black-clad demonstrators had clashed with police violently during the months-long unrest.
‘People may have a heart attack ‘
Ng said in a separate post on Saturday that he had to prepare his own outfit for the competition, after his sponsorship deal with badminton equipment brand Yonex ended. The black top he dressed in on Saturday was from athletic apparel brand Lululemon.
“I choose the clothes that I feel comfortable to wear,” he wrote on Instagram.
Executive councillor and Senior Counsel Ronny Tong also reacted to the row, saying the Hong Kong badminton representative should avoid dressing in black: “[We] have had bad experiences so we are afraid… it’s better not to wear black, otherwise people may have a heart attack while watching the television.”
Tong then cheered Ng on and said he would wait for the local athlete to bring home a medal.
The Hong Kong Badminton Association issued a statement on Sunday and said they have requested another sports brand FILA – the apparel sponsor for the Hong Kong Olympic delegation – to provide jerseys for Ng.
The association also contacted the Home Affairs Department, which pledged they would offer “full assistance.” The government will review team uniform designs with the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee in the future.
“The attention on Ka-long’s jersey is – in fact – a communication problem within the badminton team, we can do better. We are working hard on handling the matter,” it said.