It’s only been a couple of days since the fiery underwater feud broke out between Olympic swimmers Sun Yang and Mack Horton. Ever since, Chinese people have demanded that Horton apologize for calling Sun a “drug cheat.” Now, a Horton has apologized, but it’s not Mack Horton, nor is the apology directed at Sun Yang and his 1.3 billion strong fan base.
Andrew Horton, the Australian swimmer’s father, has spoken out and apologized (for Chinese netizens) to people with similar sounding names to Mack Horton, the Herald Sun reports. “We probably just need to apologize to every Horton who has a name like Mack – because they have really copped a fair shellacking over the last couple of days,” he said.
Following Mack’s controversial statements, Mark Horton, a 36-year-old British IT worker, received over 300,000 angry tweets, telling him to say sorry to Sun Yang.
However, Andrew Horton emphasized that he is proud of his son for speaking out on this issue and that the reaction from the Chinese public has been blown out of proportion.
Unsurprisingly, the Chinese media were not satisfied with this apology. Though many, including CCTV anchor Bai Yansong, have eloquently illustrated why Mack Horton should apologize, Sina is now arguing that the Australian swimmer ought to apologize because “87% of Australians believe that Horton should apologize.”
This report is based on a poll that was first posted online by Australian television network Channel 7, which is already on China’s bad side, following a few mistakes.
Clearly, the poll was influenced by Chinese voters who bypassed the Great Firewall to protect their beloved athlete. Numerous posts were made on Weibo about the poll, calling on compatriots to help skew the final results. An hour after the poll was posted, 69% of voters said that Horton should not apologize. But as soon as Chinese netizens got wind of the poll, the results flipped, after a few more hours 74% were saying that he should apologize. From there, the apologists’ side has only grown.
Thankfully, Chinese netizens on Weibo weren’t fooled by the results.
“This is probably the result of Chinese people going past the Great Fire Wall to vote,” @包子君bobo wrote.
“I admit, I voted in this poll. But who asked the Australian Media to compete with China in a poll?” @德约的网球拍 wrote.
“Thank you to all the Chinese netizens!” @RURU-皮丘呀 wrote.
So, it seems unlikely that the swimmer will take this poll into consideration when deciding whether he should apologize for his statements. Meanwhile, not everyone with a name similar to Mack Horton is having all that bad of a time. After getting spammed by Sun Yang fans for days, Mark Horton seems to have embraced his relationship with the Australian gold medalist and has changed his Twitter profile picture to fit the image.
By Sarah Lin