Lifting Weights, Raising Voices: An Analysis of Reactions to Hidilyn Diaz’s Views on the South China Sea Issue After Her Olympic Gold Medal Win

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Hidilyn Diaz won the Philippines’ first Gold Medal in the 2020 Olympics. After her win, news emerged that her coaches used the South China Sea issue to make Diaz win over her rival, who represented China. Diaz later said in interviews that the sea belonged to the Philippines. The researcher inductively analyzed Facebook reactions to these news items to unearth constructs of country loyalty, sports, and the Olympics. The researcher found that Filipinos were divided according to how they perceived loyalty to country: those who saw it as innate also sided with Hidilyn and tended not to separate sports from politics; on the other hand, those who wanted to separate sports from politics tended to perceive the country as powerless, and nationalism as futile. These findings have implications for studies into athletes’ protests, which have hardly been studied in the Philippine context.