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Sports chief seeks to stop resignations

MASS RESIGNATION?Businessman Thomas Tsai is urging the heads of other sports bodies to quit in the wake of criticism and controversies since the Rio Olympics

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Taipei Athletics Association president Thomas Tsai waves the flag of Chinese Taipei on June 10, 2014 in Taipei.

Photo: Cho Chia-ping, Taipei Times

Sports Administration Director-General Ho Jow-fei (何卓飛) yesterday lauded the contributions of the nation’s sports officials after businessman Thomas Tsai (蔡辰威) threatened to quit as chairman of the Chinese Taipei Athletics Association and urged the heads of individual sports organizations to leave their posts as well.

Tsai, who headed the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee from 2006 to 2014 and is an honorary chairman of the committee, has been bristling at the public criticism that has hounded the nation’s sports bodies in the wake of controversies involving Taiwanese athletes and sports officials during last month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Media reports have focused on the Taiwanese team’s disappointing performance at the Games — winning only one gold and two bronze medals — which some blamed on disputes between athletes and sports officials over financial subsidies, restrictions relating to sponsorship deals, players’ rights and squabbles over the decisionmaking process.

Surprised at Tsai’s announcement, Ho sought to reassure Tsai and the heads of other sports bodies, praising their contributions to sports development in the nation.

“They have personally put in a lot of effort and made financial contributions to the development of sports [in the nation], and therefore deserve credit and recognition for what they have done,” Ho said.

“However, some media outlets, political pundits and netizens have criticized them with no justifiable reason or factual basis,” Ho said. “There is a need for reform of sport policies, but we must proceed with caution. If not, we might hurt those who have contributed so much to our sports programs.”

However, some say that Tsai’s move was an attempt to apply pressure on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, as following the controversies and debacle at the Rio Olympics, many pan-green camp legislators and their supporters have called for an overhaul of the nation’s outdated sports administration system.

Commentators said that Tsai and the heads of other sports associations, who are mostly connected to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), were firing their salvos after being put in a defensive position by public criticism in the battle for control over the nation’s sports bodies and the accompanying power and financial benefits.

Tsai is seen as an influential figure in the nation’s sports program. He is said to have contacted the heads of several other associations to discuss resigning en masse in protest against the DPP government’s push for reforms in sports governance and policies.

A member of the Tsai family that owns the Lin Yuan Group (霖園集團) and Cathay Financial Holding Co (國泰金控), Thomas Tsai is representative of the rich businesspeople and industry leaders who head most of the nation’s sports bodies.

In their capacity as chairperson, they lend stability to an organization’s operation by providing financial support from their own enterprises, generate revenue sources, or solicit contributions from industry and business colleagues, as most amateur sports bodies receive little funding from the government.

Another group of sports chiefs are politicians — mainly veteran officials and KMT stalwarts. These include Chinese Professional Baseball League commissioner John Wu (吳志揚), Chinese Taipei Baseball Association chairman Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井), Chinese Taipei Basketball Association chairman Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) and Chinese Taipei Road Running Association chairman Tsao Erh-chung (曹爾忠), who are all former KMT legislators.

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