Over the weekend, a 64-member Chinese Olympic delegation made a high-profile visit to Hong Kong, at the center of it all was China’s sweetheart — Fu Yuanhui.
Fu, who became an overnight sensation after her refreshingly goofy and straightforward personality shown through on the world stage at Rio, was no less direct when speaking about Hong Kong’s relationship with the mainland.
“I have always felt that we are one family, bonded by flesh and blood, and there is no reason to divide [mainland China and Hong Kong]. Thank you everyone,” the Olympic bronze medalist said at a press conference on Saturday.
Later, with characteristic charm, Fu talked about her own identity. “My profession is athlete, not an internet star or an emoji pack. I hope I can achieve more in my sport and then, and then I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say,” she laughed.
In another recent interview, Fu talked about what she would do after retiring from swimming, saying that she would like to set up a dog rescue center or do something to help people in need.
But during her first visit to Hong Kong, the 20-year-old swimmer was all business. While saying that she had always wanted to go to Hong Kong to see all the fun places and eat the good food, she stated that she wouldn’t be making a visit to Disneyland this time around.
“Since we are here as a delegation, we have more important, more … how do I say it? Bigger goals, that is,” she said, according to SCMP. “We hope to come to Hong Kong to interact with the people here, so I shouldn’t just think about having fun. I guess I will come again by myself next time to have fun.”
Eh, she’s already been to the better Disneyland this month anyway.
Of course, Fu wasn’t the only attraction during the three-day tour. There was also Lin Dan.
An extremely unfair tug of war match.
And a ping pong lesson that made all the ladies jealous.
The tour was extremely popular in Hong Kong. Thousands of tickets were sold and sold out quickly. According to the Global Times, some tickets with a face value of of HK$20 were being sold by scalpers for HK$1,000, and some fans even lined up overnight to get the best seats.
Chinese state media touted the tour as a way of strengthening ties between mainland China and Hong Kong and building up patriotic spirit in the city that has recently hosted large-scale pro-independence protests. There was even fear that HK localists would try to disrupt the tour or use it to publicize their own views to a wider audience. At a press conference, one reporter asked the athletes how they would respond if confronted with an anti-mainland protest in Hong Kong.
Rather than let the athletes answer that one, Wang Wen, a mainland official who hosted the press conference, said that sports are not related to politics and the question was irrelevant to the purpose of the visit.
What was relevant to the visit were pics of Fu Yuanhui.
Who also made time to shake hands with Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung, though she didn’t say anything about not washing her hand afterward this time.
[Images via CCTV / gov.hk / Weibo / hk01.com / ChinaNews]