Hong Kong marathon runners forced to change and cover up ‘political’ slogan: reports – .

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Hong Kong marathon runners forced to change and cover up ‘political’ slogan: reports – .


Hong-Kong (AFP)

Some runners told local media that they were ordered to change or cover clothing that read “Hong Kong, add oil!” “

The slogan was widely adopted by protesters during the large and often violent pro-democracy protests that rocked the city in 2019 and infuriated China.

Organizers had warned ahead of the race that political slogans would not be tolerated, and when around 15,000 runners showed up on Sunday, some were told they could not start if they carried the slogan, according to local media.

A woman told CitizenNews that she was escorted to a booth by police during a security check and was wearing “political attire” – her shorts were “Hong Kong, add oil!” ” on them.

A man told HK01, another local media outlet, that after police intervened, marathon staff told him to take off his shirt bearing the slogan and run in his blazer.

Another participant who had the phrase tattooed on his leg ended up with plastic tape covering the text, HK01 added.

“This is a sporting event and we don’t want to see any political element,” William Ko, chairman of the marathon organizing committee, said at a post-race press conference.

He did not explain why the slogan – which predates the 2019 protests – was problematic.

Ubiquitous expression

“Add oil” is a ubiquitous encouraging phrase used in Chinese languages ​​and cultures.

A parent can shout it out on a child’s sports day or before taking an exam. Someone might use it to encourage a friend to keep moving forward in the face of adversity.

Thousands of police have been deployed to the Hong Kong Marathon Bertha WANG AFP

Hong Kong police did not respond directly to information about the slogan, in response to an AFP request.

“If the organizer of the event encounters situations that affect social peace and violate the law, he can ask for help from the police. During this event, the police received no report, ”the force said in a statement.

Beijing decided to quell protests for democracy in Hong Kong, imposing a sweeping national security law in 2020 that prohibited much dissent.

Under the law, political slogans deemed subversive can lead to heavy penalties, including prison terms.

Critics of the crackdown, including many Western powers, say it has gutted China’s promise that Hong Kong could maintain certain freedoms and instead turned the city into a mirror of the authoritarian mainland.

Beijing said it imposed the National Security Law to restore order and security.

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