Sat, Jan 03, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Taipei Mayor Hau fires shot to start Deaflympics year

REWARD The government plans to give Taiwanese champs NT$1 million, up from the NT$750,000 it awarded the nine gold medalists in the last Games

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Standing alongside Taiwan’s top hearing-impaired athletes, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin fired a shot into the air at a press conference on Thursday to mark the beginning of the city’s Year of the Deaflympics, the biggest sports event to be hosted by the country’s capital.

Emile Sheng, chairman of the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission under the Taipei City Government and CEO of the 21st Summer Deaflympics Organizing Committee, said the city would arrange publicity activities on a monthly basis to advertise the event, inviting renowned athletes to Taiwan to promote awareness of the Games.

Other activities being planned include various performances in the Taipei arena, as well as street parades, he said.

‘TRULY INTERNATIONAL’

Hau expressed hope that Taipei “will become a truly international city” through the Games, which will take place between Sept. 5 and Sept. 15, as well as through “the passion, friendliness and warmth of Taipei’s citizens.”

He noted that playing host to international events is one of the best tools to promote the visibility of a city, and that this year’s Summer Deaflympics, with its slogan “Power in Me,” demonstrates the government’s resolve in this regard.

As Taiwan ranked fifth among all the participating countries in the last Deaflympics held in Melbourne, Australia, with nine gold medals, four silvers and three bronzes, the mayor said he had “great confidence” in Taiwan’s competing athletes.

Hau expressed hope that the athletes would achieve even better results this year because of their home field advantage, while Dana Tai, minister of the Sports Affairs Council, said that prizes for Taiwanese medalists this year would be higher than those given after the Melbourne Games.

She said a gold medalist this year will receive more than NT$1 million (US$30,432), a rise from the previous award amount of NT$750,000.

THE POWER OF TAIPEI

In addition, the event’s art director Stan Lai, expressed his faith that the opening and closing ceremonies he is in charge of organizing “will allow the whole world to witness Taipei’s power and strength.”

The organizing committee said the 20 events of the Deaflympics would be held in 27 venues scattered around Taipei City and Taipei County, while the swimming events will take place in Hsinchu County and the shooting events would be held in Taoyuan County, both in northern Taiwan.

Around 4,000 athletes from 81 countries are expected to compete, the organizer said.

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