A Hong Kong media firm has defended a commentator who referred to a Ugandan gold medallist’s podium celebration as that of an “African gorilla”.
TVB, based in Hong Kong in south-eastern China, issued a statement following an online backlash against the unnamed commentator’s remarks during the men’s 5000m.
On 6th August, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, 24, excitedly pounded his chest on the podium and a TVB commentator said: “Are these what African gorillas are like?”
The commentator’s co-presenter apparently tried to diffuse the remark by saying that it was simply “a gesture of victory”.
Following an online backlash, TVB said in a statement that the “network’s commentator” only made an “objective description” that “did not constitute any form of discrimination or slander”.
After his 5000m gold-medal win, Cheptegei explained that his celebration was because he “represents the gorillas, the silverback”, the name for a mature mountain gorilla.
When using social media, the athlete, who is also a member of his country’s tourist board, often accompanies his posts with the hashtags ‘silverbackdreams’ and ‘silverback’.
In May, he posted a photo of a mountain gorilla with the message: “I am a silverback.”
According to the Red List of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), mountain gorillas are considered ‘endangered’ with only around 600 adults left.
Around half of them live in national parks in Uganda, according to the country’s Wildlife Authority.