Death Of Teenage Badminton Star Prompts Outrage Over Delayed Medical Response

The death of a 17-year-old badminton player has sparked outrage amid claims that officials did not act quickly enough when Chinese athlete Zhang Zhijie collapsed during the 2024 Asia Junior Championship tournament in Indonesia on Sunday.Zhang was playing a match against Japan’s Kazuma Kawano when he fell to the ground and began convulsing, as captured

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The death of a 17-year-old badminton player has sparked outrage amid claims that officials did not act quickly enough when Chinese athlete Zhang Zhijie collapsed during the 2024 Asia Junior Championship tournament in Indonesia on Sunday.

Zhang was playing a match against Japan’s Kazuma Kawano when he fell to the ground and began convulsing, as captured in a graphic video circulating online.

The footage shows officials watching the badminton star as he appears to have a seizure for around 40 seconds before medics finally rush in to assist him.

In the video, medical help did not appear to administer CPR or use a defibrillator on the fallen athlete, but medics did swiftly put him on a stretcher to take him to an ambulance on standby.

According to officials for the Badminton Association of Indonesia who spoke to BBC, Zhang was taken to two separate hospitals before he was found to have died of sudden cardiac arrest.

Addressing the delays at the tournament, an official from Indonesia’s badminton association told the BBC that the tournament’s medical teams were following “a rule where they needed the referee’s permission before entering the court.”

Chinese badminton players watch the 2src24 Asia Junior Championship in Indonesia on July 1, 2src24, one day after the sudden death of player Zhang Zhijie.
Chinese badminton players watch the 2024 Asia Junior Championship in Indonesia on July 1, 2024, one day after the sudden death of player Zhang Zhijie.

DEVI RAHMAN via Getty Images

The rules behind the apparent delay prompted outrage on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, according to BBC, which quoted several distressed posts.

One post, which received thousands of likes, asked, “Which is more important – the rules or someone’s life?”

“Did they miss the ‘golden period’ to rescue him?” read another comment, according to the outlet.

In response to the backlash, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s badminton association said it would be asking the sport’s governing body, the Badminton World Federation, to reevaluate the rule requiring referee permission to approach the court so that it’s “more situational, for actions to be taken more quickly so that athletes can be saved if there is a similar case in the future.”

In a separate statement on X, formerly Twitter, Badminton Asia expressed its “deepest condolences to Zhang’s parents, family and Chinese badminton association” and wrote that “the world of badminton has lost a talented player.”

Badminton players and officials at the tournament held a minute of silence in Zhang’s honor on Monday, as seen in a post on X by the Badminton Association of Malaysia.

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