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China opts out of Taipei Universiade team events

2017/05/12 12:23:06

Taipei, May 12 (CNA) China has decided not to participate in the team events at the Taipei Universiade in August but its athletes will take part in the individual competitions, according to city Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

Ko said Thursday that the Chinese representatives who attended a planning meeting in Taipei earlier that day did not take part in the draw to group the various teams in the summer Universiade, an international sports event held biennially by the International University Sports Federation (FISU).

China probably does not want to "take too much trouble" or they are afraid that the people in Taiwan are "too passionate," Ko said, in response to reporters' questions on the issue, but added that he really could not speak for Beijing.

Observers in Taipei said that it is conceivable that Chinese teams could be booed by spectators, especially if they face the host team. Anti-Chinese protesters could also follow Chinese teams around, creating problems for personnel responsible for their safety.

While staying out of team competitions, Chinese athletes will compete in the individual events at the Universiade, which will be held Aug. 19-30, and Taipei will make every effort to ensure their safety, he added.

According to the local United Daily News (UDN), the Taipei Universiade Organizing Committee learned only recently that China will not be participating in any of the nine team events such as volleyball, basketball, baseball and soccer.

The reason China gave is that its teams are busy preparing for the 2017 National Games that will be held Aug. 27-Sept. 8 in Tianjin, the paper said, citing Su Li-chung (蘇麗瓊), secretary-general of Taipei City Government and head of the Taipei Universiade Organizing Committee.

The paper said that while the city government is expecting the participation of Chinese athletes in individual events, that will be confirmed only if they register by the July 19 deadline.

In the report, Chen Tai-cheng (陳太正), a FISU executive member from Taiwan, was cited as saying that China's decision not to send teams to the games was not politically motivated.

However, because this is the first time that China has made such a decision with regard to the summer Universiade, it leaves "many questions open to speculation," the UDN said.

Exchanges and interactions between Taiwan and China have cooled since Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party, which is less conciliatory toward Beijing than the Kuomintang party of her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), took office in May 2016.

Nearly 13,000 competitors from 142 countries took part in the last Summer Universiade held in Gwangju, South Korea in 2015.

(By Liu Chien-pan and Elizabeth Hsu)