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Chinese basketball team pulls out of tourney over Taiwanese flags

2010/10/08 21:06:07

Taipei, Oct. 8 (CNA) A visiting Chinese university basketballteam withdrew Friday from a tournament being playing in TaoyuanCounty after seeing hundreds of Taiwanese national flags displayedoutside the arena.

After arriving Friday afternoon at Kainan University Arena, wherethe 2010 Asian University Basketball Championship was being held, thebus carrying the Tianjin Polytechnic University basketball teamturned around and left.

The team missed its game against a Mongolian All-Star team, andwas officially credited with a 20-0 loss.

Though nobody from the Chinese delegation commented on itspull-out, the team may have been angered by the hundreds of Taiwannational flags displayed in and around the parking lot and along theroad leading to the arena that greeted their bus.

They were put there by a "national flag rally" organized by twolocal university students in protest of a move the night before by anofficial from the tournament's organizer, the Chinese TaipeiUniversity Sports Federation (CTUSF) , to stop a fan from displayingthe country's national flag in the stands.

The students were incensed by reports that the CTUSF official,Lee Hung-chi, clamped down on the fan at China's insistence, thoughsubsequent reports indicated Lee acted of his own volition.

"This is a silent protest to the Chinese team that made the flagissue a big deal, " said one of the two student protest organizersidentified only by his surname Hsieh.

The other organizer, surnamed Hsu, said the protest was"non-political" and was held to express "freedom of speech."

Lee described the Chinese team's withdrawal as "silly, " but hehimself was criticized by the Sports Affairs Council (SAC), Taiwan'stop sports administrator, for going after the fan.

In a statement released Friday, the SAC called Lee's moveinappropriate and said he had misinterpreted the "Chinese Taipei"formula, devised in 1981 by the International Olympic Committee toenable Taiwan to participate in the Olympics after the People'sRepublic of China was admitted to the Olympic movement.

Under the convention, Taiwan participates in internationalcompetitions under the name "Chinese Taipei, " and uses an Olympicflag that differs from its national flag.

Organizers of competitions in Taiwan are not allowed to fly thecountry's national flag at competition venues, but the conventiondoes not regulate spectators and what happens in the stands unlessorganizers announce specific restrictions prior to a competition.

Previous sporting events in Taiwan against Chinese teams haveseen fans wave small national flags during the competition, generallywithout incident.

Meanwhile, Taiwan beat Universite Saint-Esprit De Kaslik ofLebanon 85-77 Friday, the tournament's final day, to capture thetitle. Even with its forfeit to Mongolia, China finished third in theseven-team tourney.

(By Chris Wang)
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