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HK urges probe into protest song played at Asia Rugby Seven Series

HK urges probe into protest song played at Asia Rugby Seven Series

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Hong Kong government has called for investigations into the playing of a song related to the 2019 protests during a match between Hong Kong and South Korea at the Asian Rugby Seven Series.

This comes as the organiser of the tournament mistakenly played "Glory to Hong Kong", a song associated with protests in 2019 as the national anthem of China at the men’s final between Hong Kong and South Korea of the second leg of the Asian Rugby Seven Series held in South Korea on 13 November. Within the video, the rugby players from both teams were standing shoulder to shoulder while the song was played. The organiser did not stop the song or replay the correct national anthem. 

Videos of the incident have gone viral overnight and this has drawn over 4k mentions as of 14 November 2022, according to social monitoring firm CARMA.

CARMA’s GM Charles Cheung said that sentiments of related mentions are largely negative (30%), “The incident has sparked plenty of discussions on social media over the last 24 hours, especially on local forums such as LIHKG. We started seeing related mentions from 7 pm (HKG) on 13 November, and the volume of mentions continued to increase,” Cheung added.

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“Many netizens found it unbelievable. Some even thought it was fake news until the footage was widely circulated online and later confirmed in an official statement by the Hong Kong government. Several netizens also expressed their worries about the junior staff member of the local organiser who made the mistake,” Cheung said.

Soon after the incident, the Hong Kong government has released a statement at midnight, strongly deploring and opposing the playing of a song closely associated with violent protests and the “independence” movement in 2019 as the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China at the tournament.

“The national anthem is a symbol of our country. The organiser of the tournament has a duty to ensure that the national anthem receives the respect it warranted,” a government spokesman said.

He added that the authorities have already written to the Hong Kong Rugby Union last evening demanding them to deal with this matter seriously, launch a full and in-depth investigation and submit a detailed report.

Based on the preliminary information provided by the Hong Kong Rugby Union to the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau, Asia Rugby has already apologised to the Hong Kong Rugby Union on the incident. Rugby Asia also confirmed that the recording of the national anthem submitted by the coach of the Hong Kong Team was the correct one, and explained that the mistake was caused by human error of a junior staff of the local organiser.

The Hong Kong Team brought the mistake to the attention of the organiser as soon as the wrong anthem was played at the stadium. The organiser made a public announcement conveying its apology for the mistake immediately after the game and played the correct national anthem of the People’s Republic of China during the prize presentation ceremony when the Hong Kong Team won the final. 

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