Chinese state media has declared the country the winners of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after embellishing their medal count to claim more golds than Team USA, according to pictures posted online.
The official International Olympic Committee medal count named the United States in first place and China in second place overall.
The US took home 39 gold medals, 41 silver medals, and 33 bronze for a total of 113 medals.
China earned 38 gold medals, 32 silver medals, and 18 bronze medals for a total of 88 medals.
But a week after the end of the Olympics, images posted on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, and China Central Television have circulated which show an altered medal count – with China also claiming medals won by Hong Kong and Taiwan.
By adding Hong Kong and Taiwan’s medals, China’s self-claimed medal count jumped to 41 gold, 37 silver, and 27 bronze for an accumulative 106 medals.
And although that still puts them second in terms of total medals overall, the “winner” of the Olympics is typically ranked as the country that wins the most golds.
Some modified images even show China claiming medals from Macau giving them 42 gold medals, according to Taiwan News.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region (SAR) of China officially known as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.
It governs itself under the ‘one country, two systems’ philosophy.
Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China and claims independence from the People’s Republic of China (PRC)- the borders that are commonly referred to as mainland China.
Macau is another autonomous SAR on the south coast of China. Like Hong Kong, it also governs under the ‘one country, two systems’ principal.
The International Olympic Committee recognizes Hong Kong and Taiwan – referred to as Chinese Taipei by the IOC – as competing independently from China as National Olympic Committees (NOC).
While it normally competes separately from the PRC during international competitions, the IOC does not recognize Macau as a National Olympic Committee.
Taiwan took 34th place in the Olympics with 2 gold medals, 4 silver medals, and 6 bronze medals for a total of 12.
Hong Kong placed 49th in the Olympics with 1 gold medal, 2 silver medals, and 3 bronze medals for another total of 12 medals.
Out of the 11,656 athletes that competed in Tokyo last month, the PRC sent 431 athletes to compete in the games while the US sent 634 athletes.
The PCR has finished in the top three spots in the overall medal tally in every summer Olympics since the 2000 games in Sydney.
This year the PRC came close to topping the medal table, as they began the last day of competitions leading the gold medal count with 38 compared to Team USA’s 36.
But on the final day, Team USA women’s volleyball and women’s basketballs won their games to bring in the final gold medals that topped off the count and solidified the win for the United States.
‘We are thrilled by the performance of Team USA at the Tokyo Games – and couldn’t be more proud of the way they carried themselves,’ said Susanne Lyons, chair of the USOPC.
‘These Games are one for the history books.’
For some, the pursuit of Olympic glory took on greater complexity and meaning, as the Games carried on without fans under restrictive conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Simone Biles entered Tokyo eyeing a record haul of six gymnastics golds but instead changed the narrative away from winning medals to championing mental health, leaving an indelible mark on the Games and prompting conversation about the costly pressure to succeed.
Allyson Felix, who competed in her fifth and final Games after giving birth to a daughter via emergency C-section in 2018, got the sendoff worthy of her glittering career, picking up a record 11th medal as the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history.
The American men struggled far more, getting just one individual athletics gold in the shot put and ending their drought on the track with a gold medal in the 4×400 metres relay on Saturday.
For some American fans, the competition was memorable because of who was absent – 100m sprinting star-on-the-rise Sha’Carri Richardson, who was suspended for cannabis use, prompting the White House to call for a review of the rules.
With the hugely successful Michael Phelps out of the pool and into the commentary booth, rising star Caeleb Dressel won three individual golds as the U.S. swimmers faced a fierce challenge from the Australians, who more than doubled their medal count in the sport since Rio.
The ‘Duel in the Pool’ between Katie Ledecky and Australian Ariarne Titmus generated thrills, as the American ceded her crown in the 200m and 400m.
She proved untouchable in longer distances, however, winning the 800m and 1,500m.
On Sunday the Olympics was drawing to an end with the closing ceremony underway in Tokyo.
Crowds were absent from the event due to COVID restrictions – as they were at the opening ceremony – with light shows and made-for TV special effects largely replacing large choreographed routines that have become the hallmark of Olympic ceremonies.
Japan has plenty to celebrate following the Games, with athletes bringing home a record medal haul and finishing third in the table, while a COVID-secure bubble meant to protect competitors and their coaches largely holding within the Games venues.
But elsewhere protections fell apart, with crowds who gathered outside to catch a sneak peek of events helping to drive cases in the country to all-time highs.
The government has also been left facing a $15 billion bill – double what was originally budgeted – with no tourist bounce to help offset it.
The event has also deeply divided Japanese into pro and anti-Games camps, with that division expected to be visible at the closing ceremony – as athletes celebrate as guests of honor while the stands sit empty due to COVID restrictions on crowds.
Just a few dozen VIPs and members of the media were present to watch the proceedings in person with the rest of the country forced to watch at home, as happened with the somewhat sombre opening ceremony.
A sign of those divisions was evident near the stadium as protesters gathered ahead of the ceremony, with police holing them back.
For the host nation, the Olympics fell short of the global triumph and financial blockbuster it once sought – aiming to showcase the country’s recovery from the devastating 2011 tsunami and earthquake.
Instead it was forced to delay and radically alter plans in the wake of COVID, which more than doubled the initial estimate of the bill.
Still, organizers appear to have prevented the Games from spiraling into a COVID-19 super-spreader event, an undeniable achievement given that some 50,000 people came together amid the pandemic.
Normally one of the world’s most electric cities, Tokyo is under a state of emergency, depriving it of the manic buzz of an Olympic host or the fervent crowds of its last Olympics in 1964.
Public anger over the pandemic response and a slow-to-start vaccine roll-out have badly damaged Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s standing.
Public opinion polls showed most Japanese opposed holding the Games during the pandemic.