Chairwoman of Hong Kong Weightlifting Association resigns over “countries” remark

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Josephine Ip Wing-yuk

24th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong Weightlifting and Powerlifting Association Chairwoman Josephine Ip Wing-yuk has resigned from her position following controversy over her remarks referring to Hong Kong and Taiwan as “countries.” The association made the announcement on its official website, stating that Ip stepped down due to personal reasons, and Vice Chairman Yu Sen-bo will temporarily assume the role of chairperson.

The incident occurred during Ip’s speech at the opening ceremony of the Asian Equipped Powerlifting Championship cum Asian University Cup 2024 on 6th May at Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai. Ip inadvertently referred to Hong Kong and Taiwan as countries while mentioning the participation of lifters and officials from 13 nations without explicitly naming them.

This is not the first time Ip’s remarks have attracted attention. In March, she referred to Hong Kong as “a small country” during another event, which the association attributed to a slip of the tongue.

In response to the recent incident, the association issued a statement apologising for the mistake. They explained that Ip originally intended to mention “16 countries/regions” in her speech but simplified it to “13 countries” due to an inconsistency between the actual number of participating teams and the content of her script. The association acknowledged the serious negligence in omitting the mention of “and two regions” and causing a misunderstanding.

The association has already submitted a report to the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, regarding the incident. They emphasised that Ip’s intention was not to imply that Hong Kong and Taiwan are countries or to promote Hong Kong independence. They expressed sincere apologies for the misunderstanding and stated their commitment to exercising greater caution in public speeches to avoid similar incidents in the future.

The government strongly criticised Ip’s explanation, deeming it “absolutely unacceptable” and “grossly inconsistent” with the fact that Hong Kong and Taiwan participated in the competition as regional teams. The government expressed concerns about a potential violation of the one-China principle and emphasized the significance of addressing the series of grave mistakes made by the association.