The China Women’s Volleyball National Team made quite a commotion among the fans in the country and on social media after beating Iran in the 2022 Asian Cup, three days ago, by donning N95 masks to its players.
With victories over South Korea, Vietnam, and the host nation of the Philippines, China qualified for the knockout stage and finished Pool A with a perfect 3-0 record. In the meantime, they advanced to the final in which they’ll play against Japan. But with their players wearing face masks for the first time in the competition, the defending champions gave up the opening set to Iran in the group stage. After the majority of the players removed their masks, China bounced back to win the following three sets. Actually, after they went behind in the second set, three players who kept wearing masks, removed them after a technical timeout.
Weibo, the Chinese social media exploded with comments who criticized the country’s federation or whoever instructed players to put their masks on while they play such a physically demanding sport as volleyball. Then, the Chinese federation (CVA) reacted, also on Weibo, and apologized for “having aroused the attention and concern of the general public.“
“The organizing committee, not having published clear rules on whether or not players should wear masks during matches to protect themselves, told our players to wear masks after the start of the game. Due to our lack of experience, we haven’t advised players in time to remove their masks,“ explained the CVA.
China is one of the few countries to continue to apply a strict health policy in the face of COVID-19, with localized confinement, travel restrictions, near-mandatory PCR testing, and the use of recommended or even imposed masks.