Hong Kong calls for investigation into playing pro-democracy protest song instead of national anthem at Korea Rugby 7s

Hong Kong calls for investigation into playing pro-democracy protest song instead of national anthem at Korea Rugby 7s
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The unofficial anthem of the 2019 Hong Kong pro-democracy protest movement was played instead of China’s national anthem at South Korea’s Rugby 7s match on Sunday, prompting the Hong Kong government to demand a “full investigation”.

Hong Kong rugby players were left stone-faced as the protest anthem was played instead of the national anthem in Korea. Image: Rugby7s screenshot via YouTube.

Around the stadium in Incheon, during the men’s final between Hong Kong and South Korea, instead of the “Volunteer March,” the city’s shared anthem with China, “Glory to Hong Kong” rang out.

“The National Anthem is a symbol of our country. The organizer of the tournament is obliged to ensure that the National Anthem receives the respect it deserves,” the government spokesman said in a press release on Monday. They added:[W]and have already written to the Hong Kong Rugby Union last evening asking them to seriously deal with this matter, to conduct a full and thorough investigation and submit a detailed report and to convey our strong objection to the organizer of the competition, Asia Rugby. Series.”

Asia Rugby has already apologized, saying the junior staffer made a mistake and that the Hong Kong team presented the correct anthem, the government said. When “Glory to Hong Kong” was played, the Hong Kong team tried to raise the alarm, and later the organizers issued a public apology. The correct anthem was played at the award ceremony.

The footage went viral overnight, with the Hong Kong team looking stone-faced as the song was played. Asia Rugby has removed the live stream of the event.

Anthem protest

The government said the song was “closely linked to violent protests and the ‘independence’ movement in 2019”. Although several independence supporters were involved in the protests, this was not one of the demands of the movement.

The Hong Kong Sports Federation of China and the Olympic Committee issued a statement on Monday, echoing the government’s condemnation, saying: “The national anthem is a symbol of the country, and the playing and singing of the national anthem is a solemn ceremony. Athletes representing China’s Hong Kong in international games and competitions must fully reflect this spirit in order to uphold the dignity of the national anthem.”

Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Rugby Union said in a statement: “HKRU has expressed its extreme dismay at this incident and has received a full explanation of the circumstances leading up to it. Although we accept that it was a human error, it was unacceptable.”

There are authorities declined to say whether the song was illegaldespite being banned in schools and the police intervened when played in public.

Protests began in June 2019 against the extradition bill. Calls for democracy and anger at Beijing’s aggression have turned into sometimes violent protests against police behavior. Demonstrators demanded an independent investigation into police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and an end to the characterization of the protests as “riots”.

Hong Kong’s national anthem law criminalizes insulting it tone “March of volunteers” has entered into force throughout the country June 4, 2020 – violators face a fine of up to HK$50,000 or three years in prison. Last week, a citizen became a journalist first arrest by law.

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