Home favourite Lee Cheuk-Yiu battled to victory over Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting to secure a shock Hong Kong Open win as the city’s pro-democracy protests raged nearby on Sunday.
Lee, 23, came from a game behind and then saw off championship point in a thrilling decider before winning 16-21, 21-10, 22-20 to lift his first major trophy.
The final took place at the Hong Kong Coliseum, a short distance from the Polytechnic University where a police officer was wounded by a protester’s arrow in the latest fierce clashes.
The city has been wracked by months of protests including this week’s chaos when major routes and rail services were blocked by masked protesters, bringing parts of the city to a standstill.
Lee’s title run, which includes surprise wins over Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and Kidambi Srikanth of India in the quarter- and semi-finals comes after he appeared to show support for the protesters.
After winning his opening match, the world number 27 held up an outstretched right hand and his left index finger, a gesture interpreted as supporting ‘Five demands, not one less’ – a slogan chanted by the demonstrators.
“Those who understand will understand, those who don’t, just forget it,” Lee said this week when asked to explain his celebration, according to the South China Morning Post.
China’s Chen Yufei fought to a hard-won 21-18, 13-21, 21-13 win over Ratchanok Intanon, the former world champion from Thailand, to be crowned the women’s singles champion.
South Korea’s Choi Sol-gyu and Seo Seung-jae beat Indonesians Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan to win the mixed doubles, and China’s Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan saw off Chang Ye-na Kim Hye-rin in the women’s doubles final.