The Seven Network has moved to clarify confusion over comments made by Australian ski legend Jacqui Cooper during Thursday evening’s broadcast of the Winter Olympic Games.
Viewers were left shocked during the women’s aerials when Cooper said on Seven, after watching Chinese athlete Yan Ting’s first jump: “Very Chinese.
“They all look the same. They’re very hard to tell who’s who.”
Cooper’s comments were quickly broadcast on social media but astute observers noted she was probably referring to the style of the Chinese athletes.
And a Seven statement released on Friday reiterated that view.
“During tonight’s commentary of the women’s aerials, commentator Jacqui Cooper, a former Olympian and world champion, noted that an aerial manoeuvre was in a technical and style sense, very Chinese,” it read.
“Meaning that the whole of the Chinese aerial team are trained in the same way – and the manoeuvre reference was a classic, technically perfect, trademark of that team’s style.
“At no time was the commentary racist, intended to be racist or offensive.”
Cooper – who also posted on Twitter about the incident – went further to clarify the situation on SEN Radio on Friday.
Just finished the Aerials, I’ve noticed a whole bunch of comments about my remarks re the Chinese. I need to make it clear I was talking about the jump. The Chinese are trained by one coach with one technique, their aim is all to jump the same.
Bring on the final tomorrow night.
— Jacqui Cooper (@JacquiCooperSKI) February 15, 2018
“I was surprised by all of the comments that came in [on social media]. I have nothing but respect for the Chinese team,” she said.
“Just the day before I hosted the Australia-China Business Council luncheon for La Trobe Financial. I mean I couldn’t love China any more.
“It was actually a compliment. It’s a compliment that the fact that the Chinese have got such a technical coaching mould, that all of these athletes can look identical technically.
“And it is difficult to tell one technical athlete from each other because they all look the same in the air.”
Cooper added that the Australian team was very similar in the way that it was viewed.
“Australians all look the same in the air and so did the Belarusians,” she added.
“They are the only three countries that make sure that every single athlete jumps identically and technically.
“Where the rest of the world, like Switzerland, Canada, America, they sort of allow their athletes to adopt their own flair, style and technique.
“But the Chinese team … it’s like ‘you jump like this person’ and that’s how it’s done.
“There was absolutely nothing in it. Absolutely nothing in it. There was a lot of people that thought ‘oh my gosh, of course she was talking about technique’. There’s a lot of other sensitive people out there.”