Sun, Aug 26, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Asian Games: Taiwan, by whatever name, continue winning medals

AP, JAKARTA

Imagine if the US could not compete under its real name at the Olympics. Or Japan, or Spain or India.

That is the reality for Taiwan, which is formally known as the Republic of China.

However, at the ongoing Asian Games in Indonesia — as well as at the Olympics — the nation is listed officially as Chinese Taipei and marches under a white flag adorned with the Olympic rings.

Its own red, blue and white flag is banned.

“This gives us a chance to compete and make our strength known internationally, so we accept the pity that we have to compete under the name of Chinese Taipei,” Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee secretary-general Shen Yi-ting said.

This is due primarily to pressure from Beijing.

China, with a population of 1.4 billion, dominates the Asian Games, along with Japan and South Korea.

However, Taiwan, with only 23.5 million people, is also a player. Its delegation of 558 ranks among the largest, and as of press time last night ranked No. 8 in the medal table with 30 medals — six gold.

China were leading the table with 149 overall, followed by Japan (108), South Korea (83) and Iran (34).

Beijing has over the past few months also forced many major international airlines to change their designations for Taiwan on their Web sites or face possible sanctions.

“I’m sure that many people [in Taiwan] feel dismayed,” Shen said. “But quite a lot understand that it is the reality in the international sporting realm.”

“If we use our own name, we will lose the chance for our athletes. They will lose the playground, or the showcase they have,” she said. “The right of our athletes to compete is our utmost concern. And I think most Taiwanese understand that.”

Taiwan won 10 gold medals at the 2014 Asian Games and is on track to match that. Taiwanese athletes claimed one gold medal in the past three Olympics and a high of two in Athens in 2004.

“Our aim is to win more than one gold in Tokyo,” Shen said.

The 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, was the last in which Taiwan competed under the name of the Republic of China.

It boycotted the next several Games and did not return until 1984, agreeing to use the name Chinese Taipei, an illustration of China’s rising diplomatic clout.

Taiwan has this week won medals in almost a dozen sports at the Asian Games — badminton, kabaddi, canoe/kayak, bowling, mountain bikes, shooting, rowing, taekwondo, tennis, wushu and weightlifting.

At the Olympics, its best chances might come in archery, weightlifting, badminton, taekwondo and shooting.

Taiwan is capable of holding large events like the Asian Games, although China would surely oppose it.

Last year it held the Summer Universiade with about 7,500 athletes. China declined to participate in the opening ceremony, but competed in the events.

Athletes from several countries waved Taiwan’s red, blue and white flag at the closing ceremony, and athletes from Argentina were reportedly reprimanded for it by Universiade officials.

“We are very much interested in hosting games like this,” Shen said. “I think we are more than capable.”

Taiwan was awarded the rights to host next year’s first East Asian Youth Games, then later stripped of the honor by the East Asian Olympic Committee, she said.

China reportedly demanded the change, increasingly angered by President Tsai Ing-wen and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party.

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