Taiwan blasts China for blocking Taichung games

07/24/2018 06:25 PM
Image taken from www.taichung2019.com
Image taken from www.taichung2019.com

Taipei, July 24 (CNA) Taiwan's government accused China on Tuesday of exerting pressure on the East Asian Olympic Committee (EAOC) to cancel the first East Asian Youth Games in Taichung in 2019 and said its interference was irrational and politically motivated.

In a statement, the Presidential Office described China's pressure on the EAOC as open political interference in sports using brutish means, and said it "strongly regretted" Beijing's irrational behavior in the international community and the EAOC's wrong decision.

"Sports do not have borders," the office said, describing sports as giving different countries and peoples the chance to meet and get to know each other and to promote international and social harmony.

"Now China has jeopardized the holding of an international sporting event based on an absurd reason. Taiwanese people will never accept it, and all those who love sports internationally will not approve," the statement said.

The Presidential Office was reacting to a decision by the EAOC on Tuesday to not hold the East Asian Youth Games in Taichung next year.

The decision was made at an extraordinary meeting of the organization in Beijing on Tuesday that was reportedly called by Chinese representatives to weigh whether or not to hold the Taichung event as planned in August 2019.

The Chinese side reportedly brought up the issue due to concern over a public campaign in Taiwan to hold a referendum on whether Taiwan should participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games as "Taiwan" rather than its standard Olympic name of "Chinese Taipei."

Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee vice chairman Tsai Tzu-chueh (蔡賜爵) said at a press briefing in Taipei that during the EAOC meeting, attended by all eight full EAOC members, concerns were expressed that the referendum campaign could affect the East Asian Youth Games.

China strongly opposes the idea of Taiwan competing as "Taiwan" in any international sports event to avoid any suggestion that Taiwan is an indepndent country.

Taiwan's representatives at the meeting said the referendum was still in the petition stage and was not a government policy, and urged the group not to shut down the Taichung games.

But six members (China, South Korea, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Macau, and North Korea) and EAOC Chairman Liu Peng (劉鵬) of China voted in favor of calling off the Taichung games, while Taiwan voted against it and Japan abstained, Tsai said.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned that China's success in interfering with the regional sports event would make it possible for China to interfere in other activities in other countries in the future.

The ministry urged countries around the world to jointly stop China's "destructive" behavior in the international community.

The Executive Yuan, the top administrative body of Taiwan's government, said the rights and interests of athletes planning to participate in the Taichung event had been damaged badly.

Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) has instructed the Sports Administration to assist Taichung authorities in submitting a protest to the EAOC, the Executive Yuan said in a statement.

The Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top China policy coordinator, also protested the EAOC's decision, expressing its "strong discontent" with Beijing's "barbarian act" to use political interference to stop Taichung from hosting the 2019 games.

The East Asian Youth Games emerged from the quadrennial East Asian Games, which were held for the last time in Tianjin, China in 2013. The EAOC used to be known as the East Asian Games Association.

Taichung won the right in 2014 to host the first East Asia Youth Games and has since spent nearly NT$677 million (US$22.1 million) on preparations for the games.

(By Ku Chuan and Elizabeth Hsu)


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