The 34th Baseball World Cup passed without a hitch. It was every bit as exciting as an Olympic competition, as most national teams sent their top players to compete, since the tournament was open to professionals. It gained international media attention and attested to Taiwan's great achievements. Taiwan's hosting of the event revealed five crucial points.
First, it helped make Taiwan a possible center for the development of international baseball. For the sustainable development of sports, centers are needed in all five continents for long-term management. But forming a management center for baseball requires an examination of government support, the country's strength in the sport, international friendship and public recognition. Taiwan has hosted several international baseball events, but the tournament represents the first time that it won plaudits from the International Baseball Federation.
Second, the tournament attracted crowds of fans and helped revive the sport of baseball in Taiwan, which has stagnated for years. Boosted by the high quality of the games, enthusiastic public participation and corporate investment, the tournament demonstrated the value of baseball and its players.
Third, the tournament observed international conventions while upholding Taiwan's dignity. Taiwan has worked hard to win the right to host international sports competitions. Under pressure from China, however, it is often unable to make itself fully visible. Taiwan has to abide by the 1979 Nagoya resolution, which prohibits it from using its official name, flag, national anthem or president's official title when holding international sporting contests on its soil.
The word "injustice" is inadequate to describe the discomfort felt by game organizers and the people of Taiwan.
Starting from the opening day of the Baseball World Cup, however, giant ROC flags were flown at stadiums. Spectators also waved flags and painted them on their faces and bodies. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) opened the tournament. It was truly gratifying that this tournament could respect both international conventions and Taiwan's dignity.
Fourth, the tournament displayed sportsmanship. It was touching that, both in victory and defeat, the people of Taiwan continued to give their team immense encouragement and support, which became the driving force behind the team's performance.
Fifth, the tournament was a great source of recreation. In 68 exciting games, what was pre-sented on the field was neither violence nor conflict, but the players' competitive spirit. Watching the games was truly a healthy way to spend one's leisure time.
Hosting the tournament has had a positive influence on Taiwan -- a type of influence that has been rare. More importantly, it highlighted the people of Taiwan's enthusiasm, patriotism and confidence. Let's hope that this wave of enthusiasm can continue to drive progress in Taiwan.
Joe Kao is a professor at the National College of Physical Education and Sports and served as director of the ceremony division for the 34th Baseball World Cup's organizing committee.
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