When Sports Challenge Authority: A Case Study of Gatekeeping During the 2017 Chinese Ping-Pong Boycott

When Sports Challenge Authority: A Case Study of Gatekeeping During the 2017 Chinese Ping-Pong Boycott

  • Case
Abstract

At the World Tour Platinum China Open in 2017, 3 leading Chinese table tennis players and two coaches withdrew from the Games to protest the sudden removal of Head Coach Liu Guoliang, triggering unprecedented public uproar online. Applying gatekeeping theory, this study explored how mainland Chinese media controlled information flow during the crisis. A thematic analysis uncovered 3 primary gatekeeping behaviors: repetition, selection, and manipulation. Findings suggest that the party-state, not media institutions, was the dominant gatekeeper in mainland China. The Chinese media system and sports system were both subject to strict government control during a crisis that challenged authority.

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