It hasn’t been an easy time for Hong Kong badminton player Angus Ng Ka-long. The player who lost his match yesterday at the Olympics Games against Kevin Cordon from Guatemala, made headlines just a few days ago due to a controversy with him wearing a black jersey.
Following the expiry of his sponsorship with Yonex, which led to Ng wearing a controversial black jersey, FILA Hong Kong then stepped up to sponsor Ng’s new green and white jersey. Unfortunately, Jacky Fung, researcher and centre manager of education policy research centre at Hong Kong Policy Research Institute has since spoken out against the FILA-sponsored jersey which carried the Hong Kong flag worn by Ng.
According to Fung, the flag adopted an old design in 1990 instead of the flag as stipulated by the Regional Flag and Regional Emblem Ordinance. He said, "It would be most absurd in the Olympic Games if (Ng) needs to wear an uncomfortable jersey with the wrong flag to become politically correct."
Meanwhile, following Ng losing the match, many netizens have taken to social media to comment that he seemed rather uncomfortable in the new jersey provided by FILA. Many flocked to FILA Hong Kong’s Facebook page to leave angry comments such regarding the jersey’s comfort level.
FILA Hong Kong has not commented on Ng’s performance or claims that the jersey bore an older version of the Hong Kong flag.
In the post-match interview, Ng said his performance was irrelevant to the new jersey but he failed to reach half his usual standard and his opponent was at his top form.
After the match, Ng thanked his supporters on an Instagram Story saying: "I know I am not alone. Perhaps some people are destined to be the main character of tragedies. I will stand up on my feet again but it takes time.”
He also explained the issue on his Instagram account previously. "I understand that a lot of people care about my jersey as it was not from the same brand that I usually wore. In my previous post, I already explained that I have no jersey sponsorships right now, so I need to wear my own jersey... Also I was not authorised to print the Hong Kong flag on my jersey so I cannot do so without any approval," he said.
Ng’s jersey conundrum has been the talk of the town in Hong Kong, first making headlines for its black colour earlier this week.
On 25 July, on his page on Facebook, educator Nicholas Muk lashed out at Ng's jersey choice saying: “I strongly condemn Ng for wearing a black shirt without the HKSAR flag when he is representing Hong Kong! Please withdraw from the game if you do not want to represent Hong Kong, China.” However, Muk's page was deleted not long after.
Since then, amidst Ng's match Muk apologised and on his YouTube channel he explained that he did not want to affect the Hong Kong Badminton team’s preparation for the match and as such held off the apology. Muk added that it was a rare opportunity for the Hong Kong, China team to compete in the Olympic Games and to show the Lion Rock Spirit, before apologising for his failure at weighing his words as he was too emotional. He also said he deleted his Facebook account due to doxxing.
Meanwhile, a report on The Standard quoted Ng saying that it would be a lie if he said his emotions were unaffected, but Ng said he was trying his best to adjust his mentality. He also earlier said that he hoped people could focus more on athlete's performance instead of other things off the court. Asked by the press whether he needed an apology, Ng replied that he wanted the controversy to pass and no one to mention it again.
Hong Kong badminton team head coach Tim He Yiming said athletes usually wear clothes given by their sponsors in the Olympics. He added that the Olympics has strict rules on the size of clothes, but not on the regional and national flag and Ng did not violate the rules. Otherwise, he would not be able to join the match and this is what everybody should know.
Following the uproar, the, HKBA also defended the athlete explaining that Ng had failed to extend his sponsorship with YONEX. With very limited time, Ng decided to pick his jersey on his own to join the game. After realising the incident, HKBA immediately asked FILA, sponsors of the Hong Kong Olympic delegation, to offer him jerseys in upcoming matches.
HKBA also added that according to regulations, players only need to wear a jersey that contains his or her name, and the national Olympic Committee that he or she is representing, so Ng was deemed eligible to join the match on Saturday as approved by the referee. HKBA vowed to improve communication channels and thanked Hongkongers for their support to Ng.