17-year-old Chinese badminton player collapses on court and dies, criticised for medical response

A 17-year-old Chinese badminton player has died after collapsing during a tournament in Indonesia, sparking outrage over what some on social media criticised as a delayed medical response.

Singles player Zhang Zhijie collapsed on court during a match against a Japanese opponent at the Badminton Asia Junior Championships in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on Sunday, Badminton Asia and the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) said in a joint statement.

The tournament doctor and medical team attended to Zhang on court and took him to an on-call ambulance “within two minutes and sent him to the hospital,” the statement said.

After collapsing, Zhang suffered convulsions. Broto Happy, spokesman for the Indonesian Badminton Association, told reporters at a news conference that Zhang was taken to two hospitals that showed the same results, “namely, that the victim suffered sudden cardiac arrest,” The Associated Press reported.

“Badminton Asia, PBSI and the organising committee are deeply saddened and express their deepest condolences to Zhang’s parents, his family and the Chinese Badminton Association,” Badminton Asia and PBSI said in their joint statement. “The badminton world has lost a talented player.”

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) also expressed its condolences to Zhang’s family and teammates, calling her passing “a tragic event.”

“We are taking all necessary steps to thoroughly review this matter in consultation with Badminton Asia and the Badminton Association of Indonesia.”

A video of the match posted on social media appears to show Zhang collapsing and convulsing, but it was about 40 seconds before someone who appeared to be the tournament doctor began treating him.

The delay sparked outrage among spectators and social media users and called into question the tournament’s policies regarding medical emergencies.

One X user wrote: “In a cardiac arrest situation like this, CPR and AED should be administered as soon as possible. The lack of urgency is appalling. Rest in peace Zhang Zhijie.”

“The medical team arrived too late and the referee said not to touch the coach when he wants to check on him. Really?” added another.

“Not only do the rules need to be changed, but the response of the emergency rescue team needs to be evaluated!” wrote one social media user.

The BWF said it has a “general set of medical guidelines and instructions” for use at other BWF-sanctioned regional tournaments. “However, it is up to each governing body to decide how to implement these medical protocols and practices at their events.”

“BWF is awaiting an official report from Badminton Asia and the Local Organising Committee to assess whether correct medical procedures were followed in providing aid to Zhang when she fell on the court.”

BWF said that under the guidelines, the tournament doctor “under the direction of the referee” is responsible for responding to on-court emergencies and providing intervention.

“Once our review is complete, we will determine whether specific aspects of these guidelines need to be changed,” BWF added.

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