BEIJING, CHINA – Many people forget that the Olympics is a time for patriotism and national pride in a safe context of sporting events. The best athletes in the world compete under their national flag, hoping to prove that their country’s training in a particular sport is the best of the best, and simultaneously serving as ambassadors to their nation.
In recent history and especially this year, that got slightly confused. We have two athletes of Chinese American descent from California deciding to compete under another country’s banner: China. Eileen Gu, a snowboarder, received some flak in America for doing so, but the backlash Beverly Zhu received was even worse, as she stumbled during her figure skating performance and subsequently came in dead last. The backlash came from both sides of the Pacific.
No matter what one feels about their country, especially with all the anti-nationalist rhetoric coming from the left side of the political spectrum, the fact remains that these two athletes were the beneficiary to training from America.
It was American coaches, facilities and the freedom of our culture that allowed these athletes to excel and reach a satisfactory level to compete in an Olympic stage.
However, both these young ladies turned their back on their country to relinquish their citizenship and become effectively Chinese. Whether that was motivated by the desire to compete with lower standards for an Olympic team or a personal preference for China over the country that birthed them, either way it is sad.
When the gratitude, patriotism and nationalism is lacking, expect a swift and deserved backlash from Americans. While those in urban American cities may pride themselves as “global” citizens, a big swath of flyover America actually understands the basics. They rightfully expect gratitude from Eileen and Beverly for the blessings this country has given to them as athletes.
They were born in America. While they may look Chinese, nothing will take away the fact that they were trained here and were recipient to the gifts of training from this country to get to an Olympic level.
In fact, in the case of Beverly Zu, now Zhu Yi, even the Chinese are mocking her, not only for her stumbling performance but for her lack of command of the Chinese language. ‘Please let her learn Chinese first, before she talks about patriotism,’ one Weibo user wrote according to Daily Mail.
Eileen Gu, a freestyle skier, is more accepted by the Chinese and has become a face for the China state media, nicknaming her Snow Princess. While she has played her publicity game better, the fact remains that America trained her.
She walks a tight rope addressing questions like human rights and genocide issues with Uyghurs and the Chinese government disallowing dual citizenship. While she speaks of her pride as an American, the reality is otherwise. She has denounced her American citizenship, which many see as a career move.
Megan Rapinoe, with all her anti American virtue signaling to the left, was also appropriately left off the US Women’s Team roster. The circus she brought and her lack of patriotism was a sore point for many Americans. While coach Vlatko Andonovski claims the reasons are to give new players a chance and that this is performance based, I’m sure other factors were considered.
If there is one place to be proudly American, red or blue, it was sports. But the self hatred that has taken over the left couldn’t even leave that sector alone. It is one thing for Colin Kaepernick to take a knee in a domestic game, but Rapinoe doing so in a world stage basically aired out our dirty laundry.
Hopefully, as with the latest move with Rapinoe, America will exercise its patriotism once again through professional sports and the Olympics. The backlash against Zhu, Gu and Rapinoe seem to be indicators we are headed back the direction of the 90s when our Dream teams were beaming with American pride. For our nation to go back on the right track, having simple national pride is key.