Table tennis gold medalist Mizutani stands up against online abuse

Posted at 1:01 PM, Aug 03, 2021

Jun Mizutani, who has become a target of cyberbullying after scoring Japan's first Olympic gold medal in table tennis, said on Monday he will fight against the online abuse.

The 32-year-old paddler and Mima Ito wowed the world in an epic battle at the mixed doubles final last week, narrowly defeating the long-invincible Chinese pair Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen.

Mixed in with the flood of congratulatory comments on social media, however, Mizutani also received death threats and verbal abuse from those who felt he and Ito broke rules, and that he did not play at his best.

"I think I'm more immune to online abuse than others," Mizutani said. "But it's something we absolutely should not allow to happen."

In a now-deleted tweet posted days after taking the gold medal, Mizutani wrote that he had received numerous direct messages on Twitter telling him to "drop dead".

SEE MORE: Japan upsets China, wins gold in table tennis mixed doubles

On Saturday, the paddler posted a video on Twitter of long, abusive direct messages sent to him from an anonymous account.

"I'll contact all parties concerned to take necessary measures," Mizutani wrote, adding he has been saving screenshots of the malicious messages so he could take action.

Twitter guidelines state it does not tolerate content calling for harm to a person or group of people, and an account may be asked to remove the content or be permanently suspended upon review if it is found to be engaging primarily in abusive behavior. The company did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.

The Japanese Olympic Committee set up a special team tasked with patrolling social media accounts of athletes participating at the Tokyo Games to report malicious online posts to the authorities, local media reported in June. The committee did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

Japan's Metropolitan Police Department will take the appropriate action if athletes file a report, a spokesperson said.

"If I leave all the online abuse I'm receiving as is, the target will be shifted to other athletes, so I feel that I need to deal with it now properly," Mizutani said.

"I'm one of the oldest and I have experience, so I want to stand at the head of the line to eliminate online slandering," he added.