Sportswear company Fila has come under fire from some Hong Kong internet users after one of the city’s badminton players Angus Ng was pictured drenched in sweat while playing in one of its shirts during the Tokyo Olympics.
It was the latest twist in a bizarre controversy which began when some pro-Beijing figures criticised Ng for not wearing a shirt with the HKSAR flag logo but instead wore a black shirt — the colour associated with the city’s 2019 protesters — in the competition’s first round last week.
Ng then agreed to wear the Fila shirt provided by the Hong Kong Badminton Association.
The 27 year-old lost his game to Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon 22-20, 21-13 on Wednesday.
Images circulating online showed Ng in a green Fila shirt drenched in sweat, while Cordon’s Yonex shirt was relatively dry.
A stream of comments on Fila’s Facebook page criticised the quality of its products and the pro-Beijing figures who started the controversy, after Ng lost his place in the competition.
“The company’s clothes are not breathable,” one comment read under a promotional post by Fila. “You couldn’t pay me to wear this for exercise.”
“It’s not good enough to wipe the floor with,” another user said of its products.
Ng had agreed to wear a shirt by Fila, a Korean-owned company which sponsors the Hong Kong Badminton Association, after pro-Beijing figures criticised him for wearing a black Lululemon shirt without the Hong Kong SAR logo.
He later explained on his Instagram account that he had to provide his own shirt after his sponsorship deal with Yonex ended.
HKFP has reached out to Fila for comment.
‘Not his usual self’
Observers noted that Ng seemed uncomfortable during Wednesday’s game after swapping his black shirt for Fila’s.
Ng, who is ranked ninth in the world, thanked his supporters and vowed to “rise back up” after his loss on Wednesday.
“To all my supporters, I have received and read all your messages,” a post to his Instagram account read. “I am very moved and touched. I know I am not alone.”
“I will definitely rise back up again, I just need some time.”
‘Sorry for severe tone’
Meanwhile, a pro-Beijing party member who called on Ng to quit the Olympics for wearing the black shirt apologised for the tone he used, after pressure from senior politicians.
“I was very riled up, the tone of my comments on Facebook were a bit severe,” Nicholas Muk wrote on his YouTube channel on Wednesday, “I express my apologies here.”
Muk, a teacher, had deleted his Facebook account following a public outcry against his comments on Sunday.
His apology came after the chairperson of the pro-Beijing DAB party, Starry Lee, said Muk should “bear responsibility for his actions” after the tone of his comments caused a “wave of uproar” in society.
Lee said she found the apology acceptable. “I think he was perfectly justified in raising his concerns,” she told NowNews. “Lots of people in society agreed with his views. It’s just his tone was inappropriate, so it caused misunderstanding.”
The lawmaker added that an athlete’s performance should not be affected by changes in their situation. “Our Hong Kong athletes should do their best, no matter the environment,” she was quoted as saying.