An outcry on social media has centered around a preliminary match with Chinese women's volleyball players facing Iran at the Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup for Women at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig, Philippines, on Thursday. But, the upset wasn't about the game. It was about the N95 masks
Many on Chinese social media expressed their frustration with China's zero-COVID-19 policy and took major issue with players having to wear masks while competing in a physically intense sport.
China's Volleyball Association issues an apology after the match, according to the BBC, blaming the decision to have the players wear N-95 masks on "lack of experience."
Social media outrage centered around the view that China's mask mandate has gone too far. One person commented, in a statement that has been translated into English, "Our leaders are... taking things too far - it's as simple as that," the BBC reported.
As the South China Morning Post reported, the Chinese players lost their first set against Iran but won the next three after taking off the masks, completing a 3-1 victory.
Another user wrote, in a translated comment on Weibo, “Wearing a mask in the first game and losing, it seems that the lack of oxygen is indeed not good,” they said. “In the second game, three players also wore masks when they fell behind. After a technical timeout, all the players took off their masks."
“The next three games in a row, China won. Therefore, we should not wear it in the next competition. Not only will players not be able to exert their full strength, but it will also affect the cardiopulmonary function of the athletes,” the user said.
The South China Morning Post reported that some social media users said they saw the U.S. and Brazilian women's volleyball teams wear masks before during competitions, which reportedly brought on the ire of other users.
In a statement, the Chinese Volleyball Association said that the team organizer learned of possible COVID-19 infected players before the match on other teams and reportedly claimed symptoms had been witnessed among the Chinese team.