The East Asian Olympic Committee yesterday announced that it has revoked Taichung’s right to host the first East Asian Youth Games due to “political factors” after the city had already spent nearly NT$677 million (US$22.04 million) on preparations for the event.
The government denounced what it called China’s “barbaric” interference in the committee.
The decision was made at a provisional committee meeting in Beijing yesterday, reportedly due to pressure from China, which is unhappy about a referendum proposal to rename Taiwan’s national sports team from “Chinese Taipei” to “Taiwan” for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The committee is comprised of representatives from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, Japan and Guam.
All members except Taiwan and Japan voted against Taichung retaining the right to host the Games, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Taiwan voted in favor of Taichung hosting the event, while Japan abstained, it said.
Taichung in October 2014 won the bid to host the Games, which would have been the first within the Olympic family hosted by Taiwan. They were preceded by the East Asian Games, which in 2013 transformed into a youth sports event.
The Taichung City Government said that since winning the bid, it has poured NT$677 million into planning and building facilities for the Games, in which nearly 2,300 athletes from nine nations were expected to participate.
Calling the decision regrettable, the city government urged the committee to refrain from sacrificing the rights of athletes due to political interference.
“Doing so not only runs counter to the Olympic spirit and sporting ethics, but also nullifies all of the efforts young athletes and Taichung residents have invested in the Games,” the city government said in a statement, adding that it would take the case to the international community.
The Presidential Office also expressed strong regret over the decision and Beijing’s irrational behavior.
“Sports transcend borders and are conducive to fostering mutual understanding among people from different nations and of different ethnicities. They are the best catalyst for the promotion of harmony in the international community,” it said.
The decision showed that the committee did not take the Games seriously and was subjecting Taichung to extremely unfair treatment, it added.
The ministry said it was infuriated by the decision and the damage China has caused to sporting events and exchanges for political reasons.
It said that upon learning that China was interfering with Taichung’s right to host the Games, it immediately instructed its overseas representative offices in Japan, South Korea, Mongolia and Palau — which also oversees affairs in Guam — to lobby for the city to retain the Games.
“Unfortunately, we were not able to stop China’s brutal actions, but we appreciate Japan’s support,” the ministry said, urging China to leave politics out of sporting events and calling on like-minded nations to make a joint effort to stop Beijing’s destructive behavior.
Additional reporting by CNA
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