Olympic medalist Siobhan Haughey’s alma mater referred to Hong Kong as a country in a tweet congratulating the swimmer—then promptly deleted it.
After the 23-year-old clinched a silver medal in the women’s 200m freestyle final Wednesday, University of Michigan’s swimming and diving page tweeted: “Smile Siobhan! You just set an Asian record AND got your country it’s [sic] first swimming medal!!”
Hours later, the tweet was gone and replaced by another one that simply referred to Haughey achieving a “new Asian record” and winning “Hong Kong’s first swimming medal.”
New Asian record ✅
Hong Kong’s first swimming medal ✅
Olympic silver medalist ✅
— Michigan Swimming & Diving (@umichswimdive) July 28, 2021
A part of China that, on paper, has legislative and judicial powers not found on the mainland, references to Hong Kong—officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China—as a country have been known to anger the Chinese Communist Party.
Coconuts HK has reached out to the university on the deleted tweet.
Hong Kong competes separately from China at the Olympics, and athletes wear Hong Kong’s bauhinia flower emblem on their uniform. (The Chinese national anthem is, however, played when a Hong Kong athlete wins gold.)
Haughey graduated from University of Michigan in 2019, where she studied psychology and was a star athlete on the school’s swim team.
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Her silver medal achievement Wednesday makes the Tokyo Olympics Hong Kong’s most successful ever, giving the city a total of two wins. On Monday, fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long won gold in the men’s foil fencing event.
Haughey advanced to the 100m freestyle finals Thursday morning, putting her on track to win a second medal for Hong Kong.
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