A Chinese badminton player’s profuse swearing at the Olympics has gone viral in China, as internet users cheer for her colorful expression of emotions at the match.
Chen Qingchen, a 24-year-old athlete, was heard swearing aloud throughout a women’s doubles match between China and South Korea on Tuesday.
After losing the first game to the Korean pair, Chen, who was playing alongside her teammate Jia Yifan, was heard swearing loudly with the popular term “cao,” the equivalent of “fuck” in Mandarin Chinese, often after scoring.
“Wo Cao! Awesome! Cao!” Chen shouted after scoring with a smash in the second game. The phrase “Wo Cao” means “I fuck” and is pronounced like “watch out” without the “t” at the end.
“Cao!” Chen shouted again as a video review showed the shuttlecock from her side landed right on the line, giving one score to the Chinese team.
“Ah lucky, lucky, lucky!” she yelled in both Mandarin and English, while making a fist in front of her chest, after the shuttlecock from the Korean side landed outside of the boundaries. “Cao!”
“Wo Cao! Wo Cao! Wo Cao, Cao, Cao!” she shouted in excitement after widening the Chinese lead to 8-3 in the last of the three games. “Wo Cao!”
Eventually the Chinese pair defeated the South Korean pair Kim So-Yeong and Kong Hee-Yong, safely entering the quarterfinals.
Clips of Chen’s swearing have been shared more than 100,000 times on the microblogging site Weibo. Her freewheeling style defied the disciplined image of most Chinese athletes. Many people were also amused to hear an everyday curse word on state television, which would have likely been censored if it weren’t an Olympic live broadcast.
Some said they were happy to see Chinese players swearing at the South Koreans. The nationalistic sentiment against South Korea has been running high due to the two countries' war history—China fought on the side of North Korea—and recent cultural spats.
The International Olympics Committee does not have a specific rule on swearing during the games. Australian swimmer Kaylee McKeown accidentally dropped the F-bomb after winning in 100-meter backstroke on Tuesday. British swimmer Adam Peaty also used the F-word in a live interview after winning a gold medal in 100-meter breaststroke on Monday.
But according to the Badminton World Federation’s Code of Conduct, players shall not use “words commonly known and understood in any language to be profane or indecent and uttered clearly and loudly enough to be heard by the umpire or spectators.”
In a response on Weibo on Tuesday, Chen apologized for causing a “misunderstanding.”
“Actually I was giving myself encouragement for scoring. I didn’t expect that my bad pronunciation probably caused misunderstanding for everyone,” she posted. “I’m getting nervous. Thank you for your support. I will also adjust my pronunciation.” She didn’t say what she had meant to shout instead of “cao.”
But Chen’s fans have stood by the swearing. “It’s fine, it sounds good,” said one of the top-voted comments on the player’s Weibo page.