The Olympics has allowed many young talents to shine, including a Canadian-Chinese swimmer, Maggie MacNeil, whose victory has recently sparked an outcry over China’s one-child policy.
MacNeil managed to beat top-ranked swimmer Zhang Yufei in the Tokyo Olympics. She was crowned champion of the women’s 100m butterfly.
Her achievement has garnered the attention of Chinese netizens, who were intrigued by her background as she was adopted from China.
Many then voiced their disapproval of China’s one-child policy as they learnt she was abandoned by her parents after she was born.
According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), MacNeil’s story began when her biological parents had abandoned her in China in 2000.
A year later, her current parents, Susan and Edward MacNeil from Canada, adopted her and her younger sister.
MacNeil started swimming in 2008 and shone at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
She beat the then world record-holder, Sarah Sjostrom, in the 100m butterfly and clinched gold.
In the press conference after the competition, MacNeil addressed her identity. While she acknowledged that she was born in China, that was as far as her Chinese heritage went.
I’m Canadian and I’ve always been Canadian.
However, MacNeil’s win at the Tokyo Olympics sparked an outcry among Chinese citizens against China’s one-child policy.
The policy, scrapped by the Chinese government in 2016, had affected the lives of thousands of children, including MacNeil, when it was being enforced.
The Chinese citizens took to social media, Weibo, to show their displeasure. They blamed the one-child policy for causing many children, like MacNeil, to be deserted.
The policy may have also caused girls to fail to realise their potential because most families would have preferred to have a boy.
The rapidly growing population resulted in the introduction of China’s one-child policy in 1980. China eventually changed to a three-child policy after experiencing ageing population and low birth rates.
The one-child policy has been heavily criticised as it resulted in the abandonment of many babies, especially females.
According to BBC, authorities also forced errant families to undergo abortion and sterilisation.
Furthermore, those who did not abide by the policy were heavily fined. They could also end up losing their jobs.
The US Department of State reported 82.14% Chinese children adopted between 1999 and 2020 were female, reports SCMP.
When it comes to sporting events like the Olympics, nationality plays only a small part in an athlete’s success.
Despite her stunning achievements, it’s regrettable that much attention has been given to her background instead.
We believe MacNeil has worked hard to earn her title of an Olympic gold medallist and the world looks forward to her future accomplishments.
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Featured image adapted from Reuters.
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