DAB leader Starry Lee says a member of her party was justified in questioning the patriotism of a member of Hong Kong's Olympic team who wore a black T-shirt in Tokyo at the weekend, adding that a professional athlete would not have been affected by the controversy that subsequently erupted.
On Tuesday, Lee said DAB member Nicholas Muk would have to take responsibility for sparking a row over the fact that badminton player Angus Ng didn't have an SAR emblem on the T-shirt he wore for his opening match.
But on a radio programme on Thursday morning, Lee said she understood why Muk had been so concerned about the T-shirt.
“His concern, I think, was reasonable. He had the concern as he loves China and Hong Kong, but he expressed his views in an inappropriate way at an inappropriate time. He has already apologised for the misunderstanding caused,” she said.
Beijing supporters on social media suggested Ng had opted for a black T-shirt because he supported Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters, and at his next match on Wednesday, the shuttler was sporting a new green and white jersey, complete with the SAR's emblem.
Ng lost the match to a much-lower ranked player, and he later told the media that it would be wrong for him to say that the controversy had not affected his mood.
But Lee said professional athletes should not be so easily affected by external events.
Earlier in the week, Ng explained that he had to come up with his own shirt at the last minute ahead of Saturday's match, because he had lost his sponsor. He added that he wasn't allowed, for legal reasons, to add the emblem to it.
On Thursday, Muk, who's a teacher, apologised for the tone of his comments on the T-shirt. As well as "strongly condemning" Ng for the lack of SAR emblem, he had also written "if you don't want to represent Hong Kong, China, please withdraw from the games."
Patriot Muk's T-shirt fears justified: Starry Lee
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