A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilor yesterday lashed out at the city government for budgeting NT$2 billion (US$66.7 million) to build a swimming pool for the Summer Universiade in 2017, urging the city to instead build temporary pools for the sports event.
Taipei will budget a total of NT$42.5 billion to host the Universiade, an international sports event for university students.
Because the swimming pool the city government built for the Taipei International Deaflympics in 2009 failed to meet the standards for international games, the city will budget NT$2 billion to build a new pool for the Universiade.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) questioned the necessity of investing so much money in a new swimming pool and said many international swimming competitions, including the World Swimming Championships held in Brazil in 1995 and in Shanghai last year, used temporary pools, which cost much less.
“The cost of a temporary pool is only about NT$50 million, and many countries are building such pools at existing stadiums for international games to save time and money. The city government’s plan of allocating a huge budget to a fancy swimming pool goes against international trends,” Kao said at a press conference.
The city government spent NT$80 million to build a swimming pool for the Deaflympics in 2009, but was unable to use the pool for other competitions because the facilities did not meet most international standards.
The city had planned to use a NT$1.2 billion swimming pool at Taipei Physical Education College for the competition, but decided to build a new one in Dazhi District (大直) after it also failed to meet international standards.
Besides a new swimming pool, the city will also build a new basketball court, a tennis court and a volleyball court, with a cost of NT$10 billion.
“The city still lacks international-standard sports facilities after spending a lot of money on the Deaflympics, and now wants to waste taxpayers’ money and build more facilities. The city government should try to use existing facilities for the sports event, rather than building new and fancy sports centers that could be deserted afterward,” she said.
Taipei Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Tseng Tsan-chin (曾燦金) said 93 percent of the sports facilities used in the Universiade will be in existing locations.
As to the swimming pool, the new pool will be used for other competitions in the future, he said.
“There is no swimming facility in Taipei that meets the requirements for international competitions, and we will take this opportunity to build one that can be used for both professional competitions at international games and for recreational purposes by residents in the future,” he said.
The Universiade will be the largest international event hosted by Taipei since the Summer Deaf-lympics in 2009 and the Taipei International Flora Expo in 2010.