shaolin liu and shaoang liu hungarian olympic champions in speed skating

Netizens Scorn Hungarian Speed Skaters Who May Compete for China

Shaolin and Shaoang Liu, Hungary’s beloved speed skating Olympic champions, are allegedly swapping out their Hungarian passports for Chinese ones

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5:10 PM HKT, Thu November 10, 2022 2 mins read

On November 8, the Hungarian National Skating Association announced that Shaolin Sándor Liu and Shaoang Liu, brothers and short-track speed skaters who medaled at the 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics, have requested permission to renounce their Hungarian nationalities.

Though they did not name the country they are changing nationalities for, many believe the Liu brothers are heading to China.

shaolin and shaoang

The Liu brothers at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Image via Weibo

Chinese netizens and some media outlets believe that the duo will be applying for Chinese citizenship due to their father’s Chinese ethnicity and the fact that their longtime coach, Zhang Jing, is also based in China.

The ethnically Chinese Zhang has been the head coach of Hungary’s men’s short-track speed skating team since 2012, but she recently left to become the head coach for China’s national team.

zhang jing and the liu brothers

The Liu brothers and their longtime coach, Zhang Jing. Image via Instagram

Though the Hungarian Skating Association arranged for the Lius to continue training under her in Beijing while still competing for Hungary, the arrangement “did not prove suitable.”

The Liu bros’ changing of allegiances will be a significant loss for Hungary: The brothers are responsible for Hungary’s first Winter Olympics gold in history. In 2018, the two led their team to victory in the 5,000-meter short-track speed skating relay.

Shaoang — the younger of the pair — also won the country’s first-ever individual gold medal in the 2022 500-meter speed skating event.

The Lius, who are ethnically half Chinese and half Hungarian, were born in Budapest. When they were children, they trained in China’s northeastern Jilin province; they are also reportedly “good friends” with members of the Chinese skating team.

Many Chinese netizens, however, are not happy with the switch of allegiances.

Some see the Liu brothers’ decision as ‘two-faced,’ and others are still angry over what they believe was a dirty move by Shaoang that resulted in the injury of Chinese speed skater Han Tianyu at the 2018 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships.

One person wrote, “I don’t think it’s necessary to recruit such two-faced people to obtain more medals. [The Lius] are not sincere in their desire to compete for China at all… It’s unnecessary to ruin our reputation just for a few gold medals.”

Another said, “We can’t stop them from coming, we can’t stop Zhang Jing from protecting them, but we can boycott their endorsements and make them lose their commercial value.”

The overwhelmingly negative response is a turnaround from the internet commentary prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics, when netizens fell in love with the duo’s dreamy appearances.

Upon renouncing their Hungarian citizenship, the Liu brothers will lose their lifetime annuities as Olympic medalists, which they would have been paid from age 35 onwards. The Hungarian government was supposed to pay Shaolin, who is turning 27 this month, about 2,000 USD a month, and 24-year-old Shaoang around 3,740 USD, if they were to retain their Hungarian citizenship.

Moreover, the Hungarian National Skating Association also indicated that the duo would not be able to participate in International Skating Union events for 12 months after an official change in nationality.

Cover image via Instagram

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