Beijing: Chinese official media and web users poured scorn on local government officials yesterday after they gave multi-millionaire tennis star Li Na an 800,000 yuan ($132,000) reward for winning the Australian Open.
The 31-year-old had already received prize money of A$2.65 million ($2.3 million) for winning the Australian Open.
Chinese Internet users, angry at the additional reward given by local officials, accused them of wasting taxpayers’ money that could have been used to address the needs of the poor.
“The government and the party should stop spending money as they wish. The cash is taxpayers’ and should be spent on people in need, not abused in a (political) charade,” said a poster on Sina Weibo.
The official Xinhua news agency also weighed in, carrying a commentary that called the event “embarrassing”.
“A bonus from the government is by no means Li Na’s most wanted reward after she won the title... perhaps only China’s sports authorities value the power of money so much,” said Xinhua.
Li opted out of China’s rigid state sports system in 2008 to go it alone, hiring her own coaches and controlling more of her winnings in a career-defining move, and has said she represents only herself.