Hong Kong government ‘strongly deplores’ protest song replacing Chinese national anthem at rugby sevens match

Key points
  • Hong Kong’s government wants an investigation after a protest song replaced its national anthem at a rugby match.
  • The Hong Kong Rugby Union expressed regret over the “wrong music”.
  • “It was a case of human error,” the HKRU said, adding that an in-game apology was issued.
Hong Kong’s government says it “deplores and strongly opposes” the playing of a protest song instead of the Chinese national anthem at an Asian Rugby Sevens match in South Korea, demanding a full investigation into how it happened.

Ahead of the cup final match between Hong Kong and South Korea in Incheon on Sunday, footage online shows the sounds of Glory to Hong Kong filling the stadium instead of the Chinese national anthem, March of the Volunteers.

The song gained popularity during the 2019-2020 protests in Hong Kong, when angry civilians took to the streets in response to a bill that, if passed, would allow fugitives to be extradited to mainland China.
The song includes the phrase “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” – popularized by pro-democracy activists – which has since been outlawed by the Hong Kong government.
Riot police responded to the protests with tear gas, often clashing with activists.
Without naming the song, which was “closely associated with the violent protests and ‘independence’ movement of 2019”.
“The National Anthem is a symbol of our country. The organizer of the tournament has a duty to ensure that the National Anthem receives the respect it deserves,” the spokesperson said.

They added that the government had already written to the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) on Sunday night, demanding that it “take this matter seriously” by launching a full investigation, submitting a detailed report and conveying the government’s strong objection to the series organizer asia Rugby.

The Sports Federation and the Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China saying he was “very concerned” and “surprised” by the error, and demanded the HKRU conduct an investigation to ensure similar events do not happen again.

“A case of human error”

for the incident, adding that Asia Rugby also conveyed its “sincere apologies and assured us it will not happen again.”
Explaining the error, HKRU said organizers “initially played the wrong music for Hong Kong”, which they said was due to “human error”.

“This brought them to their attention and an apology was announced after the game,” he said.

“The HKRU has expressed its extreme dissatisfaction with this incident and received a full explanation of the circumstances that led to this. While we accept that this was a case of human error, it was not acceptable.”

When Hong Kong won the final on Sunday, the March of the Volunteers was played during the awards ceremony.

During the 2019-2020 protests, an estimated million people attended demonstrations in Hong Kong, and police arrested 10,200 people and two people lost their lives. The city has more than seven million inhabitants.
Although the so-called extradition bill was eventually withdrawn, protests continued and China eventually enacted the controversial national security law on June 30, 2020.
After the new law came into effect, the Hong Kong government said it “strongly condemns any act that challenges the sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China.”
Since then, hundreds have been detained under the threat of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces against Hong Kong and China.
The Hong Kong government has asked the HKRU to ensure that a similar incident does not happen again when the Hong Kong rugby team plays the third leg of the Asian Rugby Seven Series to be held in Dubai at the end of the month.

Asia Rugby has been contacted for comment.

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