Hong Kong police have arrested a man after he allegedly booed the Chinese national anthem while watching an Olympics award ceremony inside a shopping mall, authorities said on Friday.
The 40-year-old man was accused of “insulting” the anthem when watching a live stream of an award ceremony on Monday, which showed Hong Kong fencer Edgar Cheung winning the first gold medal for the city in 25 years.
When the Hong Kong flag was raised and the “March of the Volunteers” was played through a live stream, the man – who identified himself as a journalist – was accused of “insulting” the anthem, police said.
He was arrested on suspicion of breaking the National Anthem Ordinance, which came into effect in June last year. The charge carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment.
During a press briefing on Friday, a police officer said the arrest was made after the man allegedly booed the national anthem and chanted slogans to insult the country. Police said the man also displayed a British Hong Kong colonial flag, adding his goal was to incite hatred and politicize the Olympic Games.
Police also said they found the man carried about 10 British Hong Kong flags of varying sizes, adding they would continue to investigate if anyone present at the shopping mall violated the national security law.
Since the handover in 1997, Hong Kong athletes have been competing in the Olympics under the name of “Hong Kong, China.” While Hong Kong uses its regional flag in the games, the Chinese anthem is played when the city’s athletes win gold medals.
Cheung was the first person to win a gold medal for Hong Kong at the Olympics since the handover. A gold medal was previously won by windsurfer Lee Lai-shan in 1996, during which the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen,” was played.