EntertainmentCyclists made a distasteful Joke in China

Cyclists made a distasteful Joke in China

In the picture: Gerben Thijssen
In the picture: Gerben Thijssen
Images source: © Insta story, Wikimedia
9:21 AM EST, November 16, 2023

Two cyclists from the Intermarche-Circus-Wanty group, Belgian Gerben Thijssen, and Estonian Madis Mihkels, have received fines in China for displaying inappropriate behavior before a race.

The incident occurred when the cyclists were in China for joint training. Thijssen shared a video on social media where Mihkels was shown making a face with slanted eyes in what they thought was a playful gesture. Despite swiftly removing the post, it had already caused much controversy and was deemed offensive and inappropriate.

The reaction was swift. The team immediately apologized to the race organizers, and the cyclists expressed their regret in a special meeting. In response to their behavior, the Belgian cycling group sent them back home, even before the race started.

"We recognize that our social media post was distasteful and incorrect. We are comfortable in a multicultural setting and had no intention of offending anyone. We want to extend our apologies to those who were hurt by our behavior and ignorance of Asian culture, particularly to our Chinese fans and everyone involved in the Tour of Guangxi," stated the cyclists in their published apology.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) considered the matter and eventually decided to fine the cyclists (the amount remains undisclosed) and require them to take part in an educational course on racism prevention.

In an official statement, the UCI condemned the cyclists' actions and mentioned that both have accepted the imposed punishment. This incident serves as a reminder of the responsibility and respect required in sports, especially on an international stage, where cultural diversity is starkly apparent. Clearly, this was a test that Thijssen and Mihkels failed.

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