Western media alleges photo of Chinese athletes with 6-4 bib numbers censored, China shows otherwise

One of the athletes is also mired in the controversy of a false start.

Brenda Khoo | October 06, 2023, 11:29 AM



A photo of two female athletes from China hugging with their bib numbers matching the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown date has gone viral.

Several Western media outlets such as CNN, The Guardian and the BBC, have alleged that China has censored the image due to the sensitive nature of the event.

However, Chinese state media has also published the image.

What was in the photo?

In the photo that was originally posted on Weibo by China's state media outlet China Central Television (CCTV), Lin Yuwei from lane 6 hugged her compatriot Wu Yanni from lane 4 on Oct. 1.

They hugged each other after the women's 100m hurdles final in Hangzhou, China at the 2023 Asian Games.

The date 6/4 is a common reference to the Tiananmen Square incident, which took place on Jun. 4, 1989.

The photo was supposedly later taken down after some commenters highlighted the connection between the bib numbers and the historical event.

The 1989 Tiananmen Square incident arising from student-led protests is one of the most sensitive political events in China, with death toll estimates unconfirmed.

Was the photo censored?

Western media claimed that China had censored the photo on its own social media platforms.

For example, CNN claimed that the image cannot be found on Weibo and Baidu.

BBC also added that Weibo had censored the photo by replacing it with grey squares instead.

Screenshot via Weibo.

Screenshot via Weibo.

However, the photo has not been censored.

In fact, it can still be found on several Chinese social media sites, as well as major news outlets in China.

It is also still viewable on Douyin and Weibo.

Screenshot via Weibo.

Contrary to what CNN claimed, the 6-4 numbers are not cropped out on Xinhua.

The photo is also available on other news outlets like Southcn.com.

Background to the hug and race in photo

Wu's false start

Lin took the gold medal for the race with a timing of 12.64 seconds, while Wu was mired in the controversy of a false start.

Just as the race began, officials declared that she and India's Jyothi Yarraji possibly had false starts.

The officials were not clear about who exactly had a false start and suggested that both of the runners compete under appeal.

After the race was restarted, Wu won silver but was subsequently disqualified for the false start. Japan's Yumi Tanaka was then bumped up to bronze, while silver went to Yarraji.

Wu apologises

On Oct. 2, Wu wrote a long apology on Weibo to her fans for being disqualified due to the false start.

In her post, she expressed her apology,

"I am very sorry that I was disqualified due to a false start and dissappointed everyone.

I respect the judges' final decision, as well as the rules and the game itself."

Next, she congratulated her compatriot Lin for winning gold for China, as well as all other competitors in the race.

In her performance review and subsequent training, she said that she would be working on improving her starting technique and attitude to others, especially since she had blamed Jyoti for the false start.

After apologising to Jyothi, she said that she will not admit defeat. Instead, she would persevere and continue her training.

You can read Wu's full apology here:

Screenshot of Wu Yanni's full apology via 吴艳妮Jennie/Weibo.

S'pore Asian Games medal tally

Singapore has won three gold, six silvers, and six bronze medals.

These 15 medals include Shanti Pereira's gold medal, which is the country's first athletics gold medal since 1974.

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Top image from lisiyi173173123/Weibo and LhubooM/X.