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CBC Apologizes For On-Air Slip Comparing Chinese Swimmer To Pig

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A CBC Olympic commentator delivered an on-air apology Thursday after he compared a 14-year-old Chinese swimmer to a pig during broadcast.

“Needless to say, I didn’t mean offence,” said Byron MacDonald about comments he made a day earlier.

“The little 14-year-old from China dropped the ball, baby. Too excited, went out like stink, died like a pig.”

MacDonald was offering commentary on the women’s 4x200-metre freestyle relay final when he made an offhand remark about the teenage swimmer.

“The little 14-year-old from China dropped the ball, baby. Too excited, went out like stink, died like a pig. Thanks for that,” he’s heard saying on air.

The veteran CBC Olympic analyst seemingly didn’t realize his microphone was still on.

MacDonald didn’t name the Chinese swimmer he alluded to, but his comment is believed to have been about 14-year-old Ai Yanhan.

ai yanhan
Ai Yanhan of China competes in the women's 4x200-metre freestyle relay final at the Rio Olympics on Aug. 10, 2016. (Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Blowback was swift.

Shortly after MacDonald’s comments aired, an apology was delivered by the network’s Olympic host Scott Russell.

‘Very sorry’ for remarks

CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson told The Huffington Post Canada in an email that the broadcaster is sorry for MacDonald’s “inappropriate” and “unfortunate choice of words.”

“We sincerely regret that these statements were made, and that they were allowed to go to air. We moved quickly last night to apologize to our viewers on-air and to our followers on social media,” Thompson wrote.

“To be clear, Byron's comments were related to the swimmer's performance, not to her as an individual. That said, they were inappropriate and an unfortunate choice of words and Byron is very sorry for what he said.”

MacDonald is a former Olympic swimmer who competed in the 1972 Munich Games. According to his bio, he is one of the country’s most decorated university coaches.

He is currently head coach of the University of Toronto’s Varsity Blues swimming team, a position he’s held for nearly four decades.

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