China’s national women’s volleyball team competed in a match while sporting N95 masks, which has generated controversy on Chinese social media.
Many online commenters expressed their outrage, alleging that the players’ health was being compromised in favour of the nation’s zero-COVID plan.
In the second set, the players removed their masks, and they ultimately prevailed.
The decision was taken due to a “lack of experience,” according to a later apology from China’s Volleyball Association.
However, a lot of people continued to be critical, with one stating it was an instance of officials “going too far” with China’s mask mandate.
The match, which took place on Thursday at the Asian Cup in the Philippines, pitted China against Iran. Photos from the match showing the athletes wearing masks quickly spread on social media, resulting in an unusual online outpouring of criticism. On Weibo, China’s largest social media platform, the topic received more than 16 million views.
The Chinese Volleyball Association issued a public apology on Thursday in response to the outrage expressed online.
It was stated in a statement on Weibo that team organisers had learned of COVID-infected players on other teams prior to the game and that some symptoms had been recorded among Chinese squad members.
They made it a requirement for their players to enter the arena wearing masks in order to stop the spread. But they said that because the squad wasn’t sure whether players needed to wear masks on the court during the first half, they left them on.
After dropping the opening set, the majority of the players removed their masks at halftime, and they went on to defeat Iran 3-1.
The requirements for interior and outdoor masks, harsh, unexpected lockdowns, and blocked borders are only a few of the strictest COVID regulations still in use in China.
However, wearing masks during sporting events is not new for athletes.
Due to “safety and security concerns” regarding awaited test results, both teams in an ice hockey match between Canada and the Russian Olympic Committee wore masks earlier this year.
When it was revealed that their tests had come back negative, they then took their masks off.