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Pekingers @ Tokyo 2020: Wu Fei

AUG . 06 2021
Peking University, August 6: Wu Fei, Assistant Professor of the Department of Physical Education at Peking University and a Blue Badge Umpire, has officiated table tennis games at home and abroad. Wu Fei is no stranger to the Olympics, having officiated games at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics. This year, she has brought her knowledge and expertise to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, where she has reprised the role of umpire.


Wu Fei at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics


Wu Fei is a veteran on the field. She became a national umpire in 2004. Upon the onset of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, where China sought to nurture a group of young referees fluent in foreign languages. Wu then took the Advanced Umpiring Examination in 2007 and succesfully became an International Blue Badge Umpire, which is the highest level of umpiring one can achieve, and the level required to umpire for the Games.


Wu Fei (1st row; 3rd from left) at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games


Wu Fei (2nd from right) at the 2012 London Olympic Games

Years on the field have allowed Wu Fei to develop an incredibly valuable take on table tennis. In a 2012 article written for Table Tennis World, an acclaimed Chinese sport publication, she recalled officiating for the 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships, where she bore witness to a historic moment – North and South Korea competing as a unified team. Although avoiding discussion of such hotspots is considered professional for an umpire, as a sport researcher, Wu Fei believes that sporting goes beyond exercise, and that table tennis is a sport embodying much more than that little silver ball.


Wu Fei at the 2012 World Table Tennis Championships

Recently, an article by Table Tennis World covered the first game Wu had officiated, and noted her as a Peking University professor. Wu Fei feels very honored for the mention: "I think bringing honour to PKU is a wish shared by PKU teachers and students alike."

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has surfaced new obstacles to Wu Fei's work. She cites the fear of contracting COVID-19 and being treated and quarantined in Japan as her biggest challenge while participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. When we'd first contacted her, she spoke of feeling under the weather the night before, and being up all night taking her temperature. Wu Fei shares with us some key methods to deal with this possibility in a foreign land: "Firstly, I'll comply with all the requirements of the competition, do nucleic acid tests every day, limit my travel to the stadium and hotel during my 19 days in Tokyo, and conduct decontamination practices diligently. Secondly, I'll eat well, rest well, and preserve my energy. Thirdly, I've brought my aroma diffuser, a portable speaker, books I like and trinkets to relieve stress." Though Wu Fei has a packed schedule and worries daily about pandemic prevention, she remains ever driven. "If I'm unfortunate enough to contract COVID-19, I'll have to stay positive and get over it eventually!"

Wu Fei is the sole Chinese table tennis umpire at the Olympics this time round, and she embodies not only the Chinese spirit, but also the PKU spirit, one of resilience, strength, and utmost diligence that will accompany her as she stands on the stage of what might be the biggest sporting event in the world.

Wu Fei is the sole Chinese table tennis umpire at the Olympics this time round, and she embodies not only the Chinese spirit, but also the PKU spirit, one of resilience, strength, and utmost diligence that will accompany her as she stands on the stage of what might be the biggest sporting event in the world.


Writer:
Li Wanqi
Editor: Amanda Pu, Christopher Mahoney
Photo: PKU Department of PE, Bian Yuxiang
Designer: Pu Hairui