OLYMPICS/Taiwan to miss Winter Olympics opening, closing ceremonies

01/28/2022 10:46 PM
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An Olympic-themed installation in Beijing. Photo: China News Service
An Olympic-themed installation in Beijing. Photo: China News Service

Taipei, Jan. 28 (CNA) Taiwan's delegation will not participate in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month, according to the Sports Administration, citing flight schedules and COVID-19 disease prevention as reasons.

Members of Taiwan's 15-person delegation, including four athletes, have started leaving for Beijing and plan to travel there in five groups from Taiwan, the United States and Switzerland, said Lin Che-hung (林哲宏), deputy director-general of the Sports Administration.

Because not all members of Taiwan's delegation will be able to arrive in Beijing by Feb. 4 when the opening ceremony is scheduled, the delegation will not take part, Lin said.

In addition, with the athletes having to take long flights and possibly being jetlagged, it is better that they avoid large gatherings to prevent against COVID-19, Lin said.

"We want to let the athletes look after themselves so they can be ready to compete. We therefore will not participate in the opening ceremony," Lin said.

Taiwan will not take part in the closing ceremony either, Lin said, because "not many" of the Taiwanese athletes will still be in Beijing by the time it is held on Feb. 20, having left one or two days after their events.

The Taiwanese athletes competing are speed skater Huang Yu-ting (黃郁婷), who will compete in the women's 500m, 1000m, and 1500m races; skiers Lee Wen-yi (李玟儀) and Ho Ping-jui (何秉睿), who will appear in the women's and men's slalom, respectively; and Lin Sin-rong (林欣蓉), who will take part in the luge women's singles.

Among them, Lin Sin-rong was the first to arrive in Beijing on Friday, while waiting for the rest of the delegation.

The announcement that Taiwan would not take part in the opening and closing ceremonies came just days after the Sports Administration issued a statement Wednesday officially confirming that Taiwan's government will not send any representatives to Beijing.

While some countries have decided to express their dissatisfaction with Beijing's human rights record by not sending official diplomatic delegations, there was no indication that the moves to avoid the opening and closing ceremonies were intended as political statements.

Sports Administration Interim Director-General Lin Teng-chiao (林騰蛟) said on Jan. 19 that he hoped the Taiwanese athletes will perform their best and not get involved in politics.

"We will try to uphold neutrality in international competition and the ideas of certain governments should not influence our athletes to fully concentrate on their events," he said.

(By Lung Po-an and William Yen)

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