Chinese TV scribe knew of Liu's injury before his London fall
China's state run CCTV courted controversy after its sports commentator revealed that he was aware of celebrity hurdler Liu Xiang's fitness issues prior to his fall at the London Olympics and had prepared his script accordingly before the race.
"I got the news (that Liu was not 100 percent fit) before the preliminary, but there was no specific information revealing how bad his situation was," CCTV Olympic commentator Yang Jian told state run Global Times.
Since he knew that Liu, a mega star in Chinese sports was not fit, he kept four different scripts ready to report, which included a possibility that Liu would crash out of the race.
Yang's revelation triggered strong reactions among the public with several netizens averring that Liu knew he would not finish the race before it started, while some showing that ire on CCTV for hiding serious injury.
On Aug 7, Liu tumbled onto the track of the 110m hurdles when he tried to clear the first hurdle. He sat on the track holding his right foot, then got up, hopped down the track, and kissed the final hurdle before being consoled by foreign competitors. He was subsequently underwent an operation in London.
"It strikes me that this news is nothing but cheating," Tan Fei, a famous Sina columnist, wrote on his Sina Weibo microblog commenting on the revelations that Liu, who had highest sponsorship running into millions of dollars was aware that he was not fit for game.
Earlier Sha Tong, head of the CCTV anchor team for the Olympic broadcast, said that anchor Yang had known about Liu's serious injury through unofficial channels before the race.
In the live broadcast, Yang cried while saying "Liu Xiang is a warrior". Yang said even though he had prepared for Liu's possible fall, he could not control his feelings when he witnessed it.
"I couldn't accept that such an athlete who has brought us so much pride and glory in track and field events fell down," Yang said at the seminar on Wednesday. "As a result, I appeared like that."
A survey conducted by caixin.com showed many people seem to share the view that the injury was a stage managed. More than 1,000 people had participated in the online survey where 41 per cent agreed that "Liu's Olympic exit was completely staged and those who are responsible should apologize."
According to China Daily, the online survey showed that more than 53 per cent of netizens agreed that CCTV was fooling the audience by planned reaction.
Apart from the criticism toward CCTV, there were also many netizens who said that Liu should have told the public about his serious injuries before the race. Liu, 29, shot to fame after winning gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004. But he injured his Achilles tendon during the Beijing Olympics in 2008 right before his heat, which forced him out.
Huang Jianxiang, a former CCTV sports commentator, supported Yang's preparation for the race.
"CCTV has demanded pre-arranged planning for live sports broadcasting after my 'Narration Gate'", Huang said.
"I don't think Yang has done anything wrong," said Dong Lu, another well-known sports commentator.
"This is very reasonable after the 2008 Beijing Games, when Liu Xiang pulled out with an similar injury. Reporters must have backup plans to cover unexpected incidents, so does his sponsor, Nike," Dong said.