SHANGHAI, China (AFP) — China has demanded an apology and called for a life-time ban on a referee who controversially awarded gold to a British competitor at the World Taekwondo Championships.
China labelled it “a scandal” and “bizarre” after their Olympic champion Zheng Shuyin was disqualified from the women’s +73kg heavyweight final in Manchester on Friday.
Despite the home fighter Bianca Walkden winning, boos rang out when the prizes were awarded — and Zheng, 25, slumped to her knees in tears on the podium.
Gary Hall, performance director of the British team, accused Zheng of “disrespect” after her tears, according to British media.
But Chinese taekwondo officials and media were left outraged by what they called an injustice against Zheng, who was disqualified for racking up 10 fouls during the bout.
Zheng, the 2016 Rio Olympic champion in the +67kg category, held a dominant 20-10 lead when Moroccan referee Tarik Benradi disqualified her.
Zheng collapsed to the floor as a celebrating Walkden was greeted with a mixture of cheers and jeers.
“We hope World Taekwondo (the governing body) will give us justice,” Guan Jianmin, head coach of the Chinese team, said.
“We made two requests in the appeal. Firstly, the decision should be overturned. Secondly, the referee should be banned for life,” Xinhua news agency quoted Guan as saying.
Guan, also president of the Chinese Taekwondo Federation, added separately: “Our athlete has worked very hard for this gold medal and it was taken away so easily by the referee.
“This is very dirty.”
Victory for Walkden, 27, who was also in tears on the podium, made her world champion for the third time in a row.
Walkden told the BBC that “it wasn’t nice” to be booed.
“But I never gave up and was going to die out there fighting for the win, which I think showed,” she said.
© Agence France-Presse