Anti-Asian racism haunts Tokyo Olympics - Korea Times
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Anti-Asian racism haunts Tokyo Olympics

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Table tennis player Jeoung Young-sik serves to China's Fan Zhendong during the men's singles quarterfinal table tennis match at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo, Wednesday. AFP-Yonhap
Table tennis player Jeoung Young-sik serves to China's Fan Zhendong during the men's singles quarterfinal table tennis match at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo, Wednesday. AFP-Yonhap

By Kwak Yeon-soo

Two recent examples of racist remarks about Korea's Olympic athletes have triggered outrage on social media. While Olympic athletes have been using their sporting events to push for greater racial equality, Olympic commentators and watchers have been ruining the mood by using racial slurs.

A Greek sports commentator was fired Tuesday for making a racist comment on the air about Korean table tennis player Jeoung Young-sik.

When asked about the skill of Korean table tennis players during an Olympic broadcast, guest commentator Dimosthenis Karmiris said, "Their eyes are small so I can't understand how they can see the ball moving back and forth."

Through a statement on its website, Greece's ERT television announced that it immediately terminated its collaboration with Karmiris as a guest commentator, following inappropriate comments he made about Jeoung, after he beat Panagiotis Gionis of Greece in the men's table tennis event.

"Racist comments have no place on public television," the broadcaster said. Jeong lost to China's Fan Zhendong by a score of 0-4 during a quarterfinal match in the men's singles table tennis event.

The World Archery Federation's Tuesday tweet that used a
The World Archery Federation's Tuesday tweet that used a "chop suey" font to celebrate the women's team archery event. Screenshot from Twitter

Earlier this week, the World Archery Federation (WAF) came under fire for using a "chop suey" typeface, which is associated with anti-Asian racism, in tweets that were meant to celebrate Korea's Olympic archers winning gold medals in both the men's and women's team events.

Also known as the so-called "wonton" font, which emulates Chinese calligraphy strokes, this typeface was commonly used by old Chinese restaurants in the United States, in an era of systemic Orientalism and discrimination against Asian immigrants.

The font, according to CNN, has historically also been used in racist cartoons and posters against Asians and Asian Americans. Many believe that contemporary use of the font to signify Asians or Asian Americans today perpetuates Orientalist, racist ethnic stereotypes.

The WAF's tweet sparked outrage on social media. Fans demanded an apology from the federation to either change the font or delete the tweet, saying that, "These are world-class athletes, not manga figures. Celebrate them accordingly."

Another tweet read, "Why are you using that typeface? It's not readable, and the only thing you're contributing to is the racist (and) Orientalist exoticization of competitors who happen to be East Asian."



Kwak Yeon-soo yeons.kwak@koreatimes.co.kr


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