Sun, Aug 20, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Taipei Universiade: Universiade starts with local color

’DEEPEST DISCONTENT’:Some participating nations’ flagbearers marched alone after their teams were blocked by people protesting pension reforms outside the venue

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Spectators at the Summer Universiade opening ceremony light the flashlights of their mobile phones as some of the teams that had been blocked by protesters were finally let into the Taipei Municipal Stadium yesterday.

Photo: CNA

The Summer Universiade last night opened with a ceremony at the Taipei Municipal Stadium that featured an array of performances focused on Taiwanese culture.

The Summer Universiade, also known as the World University Games is the biggest sports event ever hosted by Taiwan. More than 7,700 young athletes from 141 nations are competing in the Games, which are scheduled to run through Aug. 30.

The nearly three-hour opening ceremony began at 7pm. Overture shows included traditional martial arts, a students’ marching band and performances by the honor guard, as well as singing and dancing to the Taipei Universiade’s theme song, Embrace the World (擁抱世界擁抱你) by the band I-Want Star Taiwan.

At 7pm, fireworks went off above the stadium marking the beginning of the event, followed by the Chinese Taipei Universiade Flag being brought in by eight Taiwanese representatives who competed in international sports events, led by former Olympic medalist Chi Cheng (紀政).

After the flag was raised to the national anthem, athletes entered the stadium following flag bearers holding their national flag in the “parade of nations” held in alphabetical order.

However, as the parade proceeded to the nations whose names began with the letter “C,” the flag bearers started marching without any athletes following them.

The situation was caused by people protesting pension reforms blocking the entrance to the venue, Taipei Universiade Organizing Committee spokesman Yang Ching-tang (楊景棠) said.

The athletes who were blocked from entering were let into the venue all at once at the end of the parade, when the Chinese Taipei delegation had been scheduled to enter the stadium.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and the audience gave a standing ovation to the athletes as they entered the stadium. Most of the athletes were smiling and taking photographs with their smartphones, and some gestured to the crowd inviting them to respond.

Uruguayan athletes held up a banner that read: “Thank you, Taipei, Uruguay loves you” written in traditional Chinese characters and with a flag of the Republic of China and Uruguay, which was cheered by the audience.

Although the schedule was delayed for nearly half an hour, the parade concluded in a festive atmosphere.

“The Taipei City Government condemns and expresses the deepest discontent to the pension reform protest groups that blocked the athletes from entering the venue, causing panic,” Taipei City Government spokesman Liu Yi-ting (劉奕霆) said.

The International University Sports Federation (FISU) also issued a press release, saying that there was “a peaceful public order incident that temporarily prevented the entry of athletes,” and the delayed athletes were able to enter after “a short wait and quick action from the Taipei authorities.”

“While the welfare and security of athletes is FISU’s top priority, public order is an issue for the Taipei authorities. FISU has asked that future arrangements be reviewed,” it said.

“We thank the FISU for giving us the chance to allow more than 11,000 athletes and supporting staff to gather in Taipei for this event that crosses the boundaries of race and distance, to share peace and friendship, and allowing us to show the world Taipei’s confidence, passion and energy,” Ko said in a speech.

“Taiwan, this beautiful island, has a rich natural ecosystem and diverse ethnic groups, and Taiwanese are always moving forward, despite challenges,” said. “We cherish the democracy and freedom we have today and will continue to make efforts in keeping them.”

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