The team is currently competing in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League

Belgian women’s volleyball players Ilka Van de Vyver and Nathalie Lemmens have been criticised for uploading racist photos.

In an Instagram story, captain of the Belgian women’s volleyball team Ilka Van de Vyver posted a picture of her teammate Nathalie Lemmens pulling her eyes back with the caption “on the road to” followed by a Chinese flag and Japanese flag.

Vyver then shared a photo of Lemmens forming a heart shape with her hands with the caption, “we apologize. We didn’t want to harm.” Meanwhile, on Lemmens’ Instagram, a photo of Vyver was seen in a similar pose with the caption, “we apologize, we love China.”

The sportswomen are currently representing Belgium in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League tournament. Belgium are scheduled their first match on 15 May against South Korea in Ningbo, China. The Belgian team is also known as ‘The Yellow Tigers’.

According to the tournament’s website, 25-year-old Vyver has been playing for The Yellow Tigers since 2010 and plays in the setter position. 23-year-old Lemmens plays at the middle blocker position and is also studying to become a biochemist.

Both women have now set their Instagram accounts to private.

Reddit users were quick to criticise the sportswomen for their posts. “These people are so disrespectful,” one user wrote. “If they go to Africa, would they puff up their cheeks and pull their ears? Like in what world, would they think this would be acceptable?”

“You mocked the people,” wrote another. “Apologize to the people, not the country. I couldn’t care less if you love our hate China.”

One user called for the women to be banned from the competition. “They should be banned from ever competing in Asia.”