OLYMPICS/Government sports head offers to resign over Olympics flight issue

07/20/2021 07:58 PM
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Sports Administration Director-General Chang Shao-hsi (center left, in light blue jacket) poses for a group photo with Taiwan
Sports Administration Director-General Chang Shao-hsi (center left, in light blue jacket) poses for a group photo with Taiwan's Olympic team before they depart for Tokyo Monday. Photo courtesy of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee

Taipei, July 20 (CNA) Taiwan's top government official in charge of sport affairs, Chang Shao-hsi (張少熙), has offered to resign, after apologizing over the fact that athletes representing Taiwan in the Tokyo Olympics flew to the Games in economy class while government officials sat in business class.

Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said Tuesday he had received a written and verbal resignation offer from Chang, director-general of the Sports Administration, which is part of the education ministry's portfolio.

When informed about the resignation offer, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said Chang should focus on taking care of the health and needs of the Taiwan athletes at the Olympics, according to Pan.

The issue of Chang's resignation offer and the controversy over the flight arrangements should be dealt with after the Games end, Pan cited Su as saying.

The flight arrangements for Taiwan's Tokyo Olympics delegation became an issue after badminton player Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) posted an Instagram photo of herself, sitting in economy class on a China Airlines charter flight to Tokyo on Monday.

In the Instagram post, Tai said she missed flying on EVA Air to her international competitions, as she would be seated in business class.

According to the Sports Administration, the China Airlines charter on Monday was carrying a delegation of 134 people -- athletes, officials and support staff -- on the three-hour flight to Tokyo.

The government officials, coaches and team doctors flew business class on the A330 aircraft, while the 50 athletes were seated in alternating rows in the front section of the economy cabin, the Sports Administration said.

That arrangement was necessary to allow social distancing between the athletes, which would not have been possible in business class, as there are only 36 seats in that section of the aircraft, the Sports Administration said.

It promised, however, to fly all Taiwanese athletes in business class on their return from Tokyo after the Games.

Tai's post also drew an apology from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who had pledged previously that during her term in office, all Taiwanese athletes and coaches competing in major international sports events would travel business class to overseas venues.

(By Hsu Chih-wei and Chiang Yi-ching)

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