The Internet has some fierce words for Italian wheelchair fencer Emanuele Lambertini, and are even calling for his medal to be revoked.

Both the Olympic and Paralympic games are some of the strongest symbols for global unity, sportsmanship and all-around togetherness.

Naturally, the athletes themselves are expected to comport themselves with respect and dignity for not only their teammates and rival players, but also the very countries they come from. When that respect is left at the door, people – understandably – get very upset, which was the case with wheelchair fencing medalist Emanuele Lambertini.

On December 14, Lambertini shared an Instagram photo where he was pressing the skin on the outside of his eyes in a manner that causes the eyes to pull taut and look “slanted”. The gesture is recognized as a racist way to mock the eye shape associated with Asians, and was compounded by the text, which read:

“That’s how I feel after eating 🍣🍚🍜 [sushi, rice, noodles] for a week… but at least it was worth it!!”

Lambertini competes as a wheelchair fencer on behalf of his native Italy and took home a bronze medal in the 2016 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup. In the Rio Paralympics held that same year, he ranked 8th in the men’s foil category A.

While the Instagram post has been deleted, and Lambertini has posted an apology, many people have been left unsatisfied with the lack of repercussions.

▼ His apology is written on the right

As the ‘slanted eye’ stereotype is a particularly cruel and offensive method of mockery towards Asian people and Lambertini explicitly linked it with eating Asian staple foods, many feel that the athlete showed an unacceptable level of disrespect: especially considering that Japan will be hosting the upcoming Paralympics in 2020.

“It’s especially appalling for a paralympic athlete of all people to make this kind of ignorant comment. I think someone should steal his medal.”
“Really uncomfortable to see, especially from someone who knows just how bad this gesture is. I can’t believe there are still people who think it’s okay to do this.”
“Exposing your lack of manners in a country that’s taken you in as a guest…Well, it tells you something about his upringing.”
“Completely unacceptable. The Paralympic games should bar him from entry.”

With disabled people, athletes or otherwise, facing all manner of discrimination themselves, it’s disappointing to see this kind of mean-spirited joke made at the expense of another group. Hopefully this incident will serve as a good reminder for athletes and spectators alike to stay compassionate and consider others’ feelings before posting on social media.

Source: Kaikore via My Game News Flash
Featured image: Twitter/@gracelynnkung