Chinese Olympic figure skater Zhu Yi receives hate from her home country after failed performance


Katy Clark

On January 27th, Zhu Li posted on her instagram about being excited to compete in the 2022 Olympics, posting photos of her and the team.

Katy Clark, AVT Editor

On February 7th, Zhu Yi, a figure skater representing China in the 2022 Winter Olympics, made her Olympic debut in the Capitol Indoor Stadium in the Haiden District of Beijing. Excited to represent China and be put in the spotlight, the figure skater went onto the ice smiling at the audience that greeted her. However by the time her second performance was over, she was brought to tears, and the fans had turned on her. 

“I can’t even imagine how much pressure she faced competing at the Olympics for the first time, especially for a sport that is so heavily scrutinized,” said figure skater Sherry Long (‘23). 

Born on September 19th, 2002 in California, Beverly Zhu grew up with a passion for ice skating. Her love for the ice influenced her to make a life changing decision in 2018, which some found shocking. She was going to give up her US citizenship in order to train for the Olympics in China, wanting to represent her nationality.

“Her dad is a Dean and VP of Peking University and has close ties with the government. Because of this, she can’t even qualify for the Olympics if she competes for the USA. She’s 19, and this is her first Olympics, of course she might mess up,” said Rachel Zhou (‘24).

Zhu Li was put under a lot of pressure leading up to the competition, as many were skeptical of her ability to represent China due to her American upbringing. On Sunday, February 6th, she stumbled through her routine due to nerves. Shaken up by her debut performance, Zhu Li fell twice on the next day, negatively impacting the score of the Chinese figure skating team.

“Even at the Olympics a lot of skaters fall, but I think she received so much backlash because of her reaction and the way she handled the fall,” said Long (‘23).

The stumble in her performance acted as a match to the fire, and soon the video of her falling was all over the Chinese social media platform, Weibo, with a string of hateful comments attached. The hashtag “Zhu Yi has fallen” became common, and people began to scrutinize her, and how she represented China on a global scale.

“I can’t find any videos that show her full performance. They purposefully only show her falls. I was sad when I first watched it, because it sucks to be bashed for something that’s out of your control, said Zhou (‘24).

Mortified, Zhu Yi limited the comments on her instagram feed to filter out the hate messages. At just 19 years old, she has become the target of cyber bullying, her entire career reduced to that single slip up. People are even making accusations of nepotism, saying that she only got the spot because of her dad, Song Chu Zhu.

This performance has such an impact on people because we never got to see the whole thing; only her mistakes. On the American side, there may be some racism involved because of American-Chinese tensions and propaganda of both sides,” said Zhou.

However, not everyone on social media is team “Zhu Yi has fallen.” Some users have tried to combat the negative comments, and lend defense to the talented athlete.

“I’d like to see the social media critics step on the ice without a chair to support themselves,” said an anonymous Reddit user on the r/olympics.

The Olympics is an opportunity for athletes to show off their skills, but unfortunately it can also lead to global humiliation with one mistake. Olympic athletes like Zhu Yi are put under a magnifying glass, because at the end of the day they are not just representing themselves, but they are also representing their country. It is unsure whether Zhu Yi will continue her skating career but her debut in the Olympics introduced her to some harsh realities.