Canadian-born Chinese Olympic goalie barred from speaking English in press conference

Zhou Jiaying, a Canadian-born member of the Chinese women’s hockey team, was not allowed to answer questions in English during an Olympic media availability earlier this week.

Zhou, who also goes by Kimberly Newell, answered questions in Mandarin before a reporter asked her if she’d take questions in English. The answer was no.

“She’s not allowed to speak English,” an interpreter said on her behalf, per Reuters. “I’ll try to answer for her.”

Zhou Jiaying, centre, was not allowed to speak English during an Olympic media availability. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
Zhou Jiaying, centre, was not allowed to speak English during an Olympic media availability. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

The 26-year-old is listed as fluent in English, Mandarin and French on her official Olympic bio page.

Zhou started in three of China’s four games in the Olympic tournament, but the host nation failed to qualify for the quarterfinals, although she was widely considered one of the better goaltenders in the tournament.

She earned widespread attention prior to the Games thanks to her striking equipment, which featured a pair of dragons. According to ESPN, her message to the gear designers was, "I want a Chinese person to look at the pads and immediately think, 'That's a Chinese dragon!'"

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She plays professionally with the Zhenskaya Hockey League's KRS Vanke Rays. She was excited to join the team, but recalls being somewhat skeptical about it.

"I thought to myself, 'Sorry, what? There’s a hockey team in China? This has got to be a scam or something,'" Zhou shared on her Olympic profile page. "But I figured, why not? There are so few chances to play sports professionally, in China to boot. It was such a unique opportunity that I couldn’t pass up."

Zhou won a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF U18 World Championships with Canada, and was named to the tournament all-star team. She also starred at Princeton from 2013-16 during her NCAA career, where she was named first-team All-Ivy League during her senior year.

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