He Kexin Not the First Underage Chinese Gymnast

August 22, 2008 Updated: August 28, 2008

In 2004, a Chinese gymnast confessed she was only 14 years old at the time of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Today, the IOC seems to be facing a similar scenario.

Yang Yun, a bronze medalist in both individual and team competitions, was two years under the legal age requirement when she competed in Sydney.

She admitted this on Chinese state-run Television, CCTV four years after the fact. Yet neither the IOC nor the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) chose to do anything–even though her Bronze Medal should have been forfeited.

In FIG’s athlete profile for Yang, her birth date is still listed as Dec. 2 1984, which would have made her 16 years old at the 2000 Olympics. The IOC never launched any formal investigation.

Not surprisingly, all video footage of the interview has since been wiped from the Internet. For example, clicking on this link to the interview (http://vodpod.com/watch/221711-yang-yun-my-olympics-documentary) yields an error message: “this video is no longer available.”

But China’s web Big Brother, a.k.a. the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda Department, somehow missed an extract of the transcript on the same web page.

The extract reads:
“Yang: I was only 14 at that time. So I thought that even though I fall this time, I could do better next time. I would have another chances. [sic]”

The fall refers to her falling off the beam during her routine, costing her the gold medal.

The mysterious Internet removals have also struck many documents proving age falsification of this year’s Beijing Olympics Chinese Gymnasts He Kexin, and Yang Yilin.

Every Chinese government web page found that contained a document alleging that one of the Chinese gymnasts was underage, and there have been several, has since disappeared. Coincidence? It seems all too convenient, especially given the Chinese regime’s ‘censor with extreme prejudice’ history. Anything to say for yourself, Mr Big Brother?

The age limit for gymnasts was set at 15 in the 1980s and pushed up to 16 in 1997. Concerns were raised that younger athletes could not endure the tough physical and mental training, which could affect their development.

The Chinese regime, demanding grueling regimens for its gymnasts, wants to ensure a propaganda coup by winning lots of gold—by any means necessary.

Much like the gymnasts, who have been giving identical polished answers about their ages, most Chinese rarely dare to openly question the regime’s directives. Things that must be done “for the good of the Motherland” simply must be done. Ridiculous? Well yes. It is a shame for the young girls, who I dare say are just pawns in this dirty game.


Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Sonya Bryskine
Sonya Bryskine