Now, before you start wondering why they would be so agitated by gift given to a national champ, here is the catch: Li Na had already received $2.3 million (Sh198 million) prize money for winning the Australian Open-her second Grand Slam title.
The 31-year-old Li was handed a red dummy cheque by her home province governor, Wang Guosheng when she landed back from Melbourne on Monday.
Angry Chinese internet users accused local officials of wasting taxpayers’ money that could be used to help the poor. “The government and the party should stop spending money as they wish,” said a poster on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. “The cash is taxpayers’ and should be spent on people in need, not abused in a (political) charade,’’ they added.
The official news agency, Xinhua, added weight to the matter by carrying a commentary on Wednesday that termed the event “embarrassing” and “money-worshipping”. “A bonus from the government is by no means Li Na’s most wanted reward after she won the Grand Slam title…perhaps only China’s sports authorities value the power of money so much,” added Xinhua.
Xian Huanyu, a sports professor in Shanghai, was quoted as having said: “The government deems sports achievement as a kind of political achievement.”
Be the judge.
BY JOSEPHINE OTIENO