Liu Xiang arrives in Shanghai on Aug. 14 after crashing out of the London Olympics. (Photo/CNS)
The management staff of a Nanjing-based newspaper have been punished for revealing that China's state broadcaster CCTV knew about Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang's injury heading into his failed heat in London, reports the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.
The 29-year-old Liu, who became a national hero after winning gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004, crashed out of his 110m heat in London earlier this month after falling at the first hurdle with an injury to his right Achilles tendon.
According to the Oriental Guardian, a free newspaper offered on subway stations in Nanjing, the capital of eastern China's Jiangsu province, CCTV knew Liu was nursing an injury going into the race and had prepared four scripts in advance to prepare for the likelihood that Liu would fail to live up to the country's expectations, as in Beijing four years ago when he also withdrew through injury. The paper's headline on Aug. 23 read: "Liu Xiang knew, CCTV knew, leaders knew: only spectators foolishly waited to witness a miracle."
The Oriental Guardian's editor-in-chief Chen Zhaohui has been suspended and deputy editor Yu Jiechen was given an official warning, while news directors Guo Xiaosong and Zhao Zaiqiang and editorial assistant Zhang Yuhai were sacked, Ming Pao said. The reporter who wrote the article was reassigned to another position because he was not responsible for the offending headline, Ming Pao added.
Sources said the punishment was determined by the Nanjing Daily News Group, which owns the Oriental Guardian, but has not yet been finalized. When contacted by Ming Pao, a staff member claimed to not know anything about the punishment and said all other members of the management team were in meetings.
Meanwhile, CCTV apologized for a program aired on Aug. 10 which showed a photo of Liu Xiang with an injured left foot as opposed to his right, sparking confusion and conspiracy theories among China's internet users. The broadcaster explained they had used a mirror image of the photo to avoid Liu's foot being obscured by a subtitle banner.
Liu Xiang 劉翔
Chen Zhaohui 陳朝暉
Yu Jiechen 于潔塵
Guo Xiaosong 郭曉松
Zhao Zaiqiang 趙再強
Zhang Yuhai 張玉海