While many had words of encouragement for an Olympic swimmer who fell heartbreakingly short of the mark, one Singaporean comedian saw a great opportunity to make some digs – and now he’s regretting it.
Calvin Singh, who performs as Funny Punjabi Guy, apologized today for several videos making fun of swimmer Joseph Schooling, who failed to defend the gold he brought home to Singapore from Rio in 2016. Perhaps he could have been forgiven if he’d found more funny than pointing out Schooling’s loss and deferred National Service.
“Listen up, everyone. We will be taking the ferry to Tekong but now our ferry is quite full so Joseph Schooling you go first, we will catch up because we don’t want you to come last again,” he said in one of the videos.
The skit was a jab at Schooling’s impending enlistment after he won a deferral to compete in Tokyo.
Schooling placed 44th out of 55 swimmers yesterday in the 100m butterfly with a time of 53.12 seconds, three seconds over the record 2016 time of 50.39 seconds that brought home Singapore’s first ever gold medal. Schooling was a national sensation for that performance, which even left American swimmer Michael Phelps in his wake.
Singh, who is a content strategist for social media site SGAG, pulled the videos within hours after users called him out as “insensitive” and “disrespectful.”
“Last night, I made a few videos poking fun at Joseph Schooling after his loss at the Olympics. However, upon seeing how people responded, I realized my videos had crossed the line,” he wrote today. “I appreciate everyone for keeping me in check and sincerely want to apologize to those who I have offended and hurt with my videos. I’m truly sorry.”
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He added that he overlooked the athletes’ hard work to make the skits.
“Our athletes have dedicated their lives to represent the country even during a pandemic and it was wrong of me to ignore all that in the name of comedy,” he wrote.
He wasn’t the only Singaporean to voice disappointment with the loss. In fact, there was enough grousing that President Halimah Yacob chimed in to tell everyone to be nice.
“I feel sad looking at how unkind we can be towards each other. One moment, we carry people to the highest pedestal with our words, yet the next moment we thrash them to the ground just because they fail to live up to our expectations,” she wrote.
Halimah called attention to the tremendous sacrifices and pressure athletes face, which has emerged as a theme at this year’s games.
“We have to appreciate the tremendous sacrifices and stress that our athletes have to undergo. And the Olympics is not a walk in the park. […] So let’s be kind. Support our athletes wholeheartedly. They are doing their best,” she added.
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