Badminton superstar Lin Dan, one of China’s top athletes, has issued a public apology after he was reportedly photographed with a model days after his wife gave birth to their first child.
Chinese websites were buzzing with the news on Thursday as hundreds of thousands commented on the report after one user, identified only as “Detective Zhao”, uploaded photos of Lin with a “mystery woman”. The woman was subsequently identified as model and actor Zhao Yaqi.
Lin’s wife Xie Xingfang, a former two-time badminton world champion, gave birth to their first child on November 5.
“As a man, I won't make an excuse for myself. But my behaviour hurt my family, so here I am to apologise to my family, I'm sorry,” Lin wrote in a short statement on his microblog account, according to the Chinese state media.
The 33-year-old former Olympic champion is a badminton legend, having won the world championship five times. Nicknamed “Super Dan”, Lin has won two Olympic gold medals and was ranked number 1.
He is still ranked number 3 in the world despite failing to win a medal at this year’s Rio Olympics and many consider him among the all-time greats. After the expose, his ranking among Chinese fans is set to fall.
The series of photographs posted by “Detective Zhao’’ triggered an uproar. State media quoted the blogger as writing that “he went to a top restaurant in mid-September and unexpectedly saw Lin Dan with a woman and another man”.
“The blogger said he saw the woman hold Lin's arm, so he decided to pursue a possible story. After their meal, Lin took the woman back to her home. The two stayed in her house for two hours. In October, Lin was in Guangdong to participate in a national badminton championship match. The blogger went there as well and soon found Lin flirting with the same woman in a hotel room,” the state media reported.
There were hundreds of thousands of reactions on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.
“Of course you should apologise, and you deserve it that you'll never be forgiven,” user zaoqilaibaMrmiao wrote in a post that garnered 270,000 likes.
“People easily change; the only really faithful company is the Communist Party of China. CPC always by your side,” said user @575, getting 150,000 likes.