This photo taken on January 19, 2022 shows The National Speed Skating Oval, also known as the 'Ice Ribbon', the venue for speed skating events at the 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing. ( AFP / LEO RAMIREZ)

Footage of crowd racially abusing athlete was not filmed at Beijing Olympics

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on February 4, 2022 at 04:53
  • Updated on February 4, 2022 at 05:13
  • 3 min read
  • By AFP Hong Kong
As athletes touched down in Beijing ahead of the Winter Olympics, a video showing a crowd chanting a racial slur spread in social media posts that claimed it showed "Chinese racists" verbally abusing US competitors arriving at the Games. The posts are misleading; the video shows basketball fans racially abusing a player in Changchun in northeast China on January 13, 2022. 

"Crazy. A group of Chinese people actually publicly attacked black American athletes @Olympics participating in #Beijing2022 with racial slur N-word Negro @TeamUSA should complain #CCP Fascism," reads a simplified Chinese tweet posted on January 22, 2022.

The post retweeted a video that shows a crowd repeatedly shouting a racial slur and "get out of China" to a black man getting off a bus.

A screenshot of the misleading post, taken on February 1, 2022

The same video circulated in similar posts here and here

The posts surfaced as some 60,000 competitors, journalists and workers arrived in Beijing ahead of the Winter Olympics, which is taking place in a strict "closed loop" cut off from local people.

However, the posts are misleading.

A frame-by-frame analysis of the video found "Changchun Public Transportation" written on the bus at the 13-second mark. 

Changchun is in northeast China's Jilin province, around 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from Beijing.


A Google reverse image search found the same video posted on January 13, 2022 on Chinese social media platform Weibo, where it has been viewed more than 900,000 times.

The simplified Chinese post says the footage shows fans of Chinese basketball team Liaoning Flying Leopards racially abusing Guangdong Southern Tigers player Clarence "Sonny" Weems after the teams played in the second stage of the 2021-22 Chinese Basketball Association regular season.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in misleading posts (left) and the Weibo video (right): 

A screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (L) and the Weibo post (R).

Weems had gotten into a fight with Chinese player Han Dejun during the match, which saw both players ejected, Chinese news outlet Phoenix New Media reported

The CBA published a statement on its official Weibo account on January 14 condemning the incident.

"On January 13, after the match between the Liaoning Flying Leopards and Guangdong South China Tiger Club in the 22nd round of the CBA season, some people standing by the Guangdong team's bus used racially discriminatory language to insult Guangdong team players. This action has seriously damaged the image of the CBA league and CBA fans," it said.

"The CBA has zero tolerance towards any discriminatory language or behaviour."

The Liaoning Flying Leopards said in a statement on Weibo that the incident had harmed the reputation of the CBA league and fans.

US broadcaster CNN published the video of the incident in a report from January 19 headlined "US basketball player Sonny Weems racially abused by fans in China".

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