17-year-old Chinese badminton player collapses on court and dies, medical response time decried

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

Zhang Zhijie, a singles player, collapsed on the court during a match against 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 responded to Zhang on the court and he was taken to a standby ambulance “in less than two minutes and sent to the hospital,” the statement said.

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

“Badminton Asia, PBSI and the organizing committee are immensely saddened and expressed their deepest condolences to Zhang’s parents, family and Chinese badminton association,” Badminton Asia and PBSI said in their joint statement. “The world of badminton has lost a talented player.”

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

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

Video on social media of the match appeared to show Zhang collapse and seize. But it takes about 40 seconds before someone who appeared to be the tournament doctor actually started to tend to him.

That delay sparked outrage among viewers and social media users and cast scrutiny on tournament policies for medical emergency scenarios.

One X user wrote: “CPR, and AED must be administered ASAP in such cardiac arrest situation. The lack of urgency is appalling. RIP Zhang Zhijie.”

“The medic team was too late and the umpire said don’t touch to the coach when he want to check his condition. Seriously?” another added.

“Not only the rules must be changed, the emergency rescue team’s response shall also be evaluated!” one social media user wrote.

BWF said it has an “overall set of medical guidelines and instructions” for use by other regional BWF-sanctioned tournaments. “However, it is up to each governing body as to how it implements these medical protocols and practices on site at its events.”

“BWF is waiting for an official report from Badminton Asia and the Local Organizing Committee to assess whether the correct medical procedures were followed in providing aid to Zhang when he fell to the court.”

BWF said that under guidelines, the tournament doctor “under the direction of the referee” is responsible to respond to emergencies on the court and provide intervention.

“Following the completion of our review, we will determine whether specific aspects of these guidelines need to be changed,” BWF added.

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