Taiwanese athletes might not be able to compete at this year’s Gay Games in Paris under the name “Taiwan” after the French delegation of the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) unexpectedly changed the team’s name from “Taiwan” to “Taipei,” the Taiwan Gay Sports and Taiwan Gay Development Movement Association said yesterday, adding that it would continue to negotiate with the organizers to rename the team.
Although China has not openly commented on Taiwan’s participation in the Games, it has been widely speculated that the French government instructed the FGG to change Taiwan’s designation on its Web site due to pressure from Beijing.
On Tuesday, Beijing successfully lobbied the East Asian Olympic Committee to revoke Taichung’s right to host the first East Asian Youth Games in August next year as punishment for a grassroots campaign promoting a referendum proposal to rename Taiwan’s national sports team from “Chinese Taipei” to “Taiwan” for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Photo courtesy of the New Power Party
FGG officials had agreed to allow the athletes to compete as “Taiwan” and display the nation’s flag when they invited Taiwanese to participate in the event in February last year, association president Yang Chih-chun (楊智群) told the Taipei Times.
However, an hour after the team held a news conference on Monday to announce their plan to participate in the Gay Games, he discovered the team’s name had been changed from “Taiwan, ROC” to “Taiwan (Chinese Taipei),” he said.
The designation was changed to “Chinese Taipei” that evening and then to “Taipei” on Wednesday, he added.
“We have established a task force to handle the issue. At the moment, nothing is set in stone,” Yang said.
Negotiations would continue with the organizers, he said, adding that there is a meeting scheduled for two hours before the nine-day event begins on Saturday next week.
“We are sad about China’s intervention and France’s decision to compromise, but we will follow the rules of the Games,” Yang said.
The team would not withdraw from the Games and would participate in the spirit of celebrating LGBT rights, he said.
Meanwhile, the FGG has appeared to be struggling to please both sides.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, it explained its rules for displaying national flags or renditions of national anthems, saying: “No flags are provided to participants in any events and no national hymns are played during regular events; the exception being host country national anthems at the opening ceremony.”
However, individuals are not banned in any way from showing their individual, team, local and regional pride throughout the Games, the statement said.
The FGG’s decision to unilaterally change the team’s name has sparked widespread criticism in Taiwan, with many questioning whether it has undermined the very values it was founded to safeguard.
“The FGG should not become a spokesperson for the oppressor, as that contradicts the spirit of equality and human rights it aims to celebrate,” New Power Party (NPP) Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said yesterday.
The NPP plans to continue to promote a referendum proposal to rename the national sports team and make the name “Taiwan” more widely known to the international community, he said.
“I will still attend the Games, but I will be bringing two flags with me: a whale flag [representing Taiwan] and a flag of Taiwan in rainbow colors. I hope to show these flags at the Games to bring attention to Taiwan,” said swimmer Jason Tan (唐聖捷), an NPP member who is to compete at the Games.
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