Two-time Paralympics javelin gold medal winner and world record holder, visually impaired athlete Chiang Chih-chung (江志忠), has been barred from defending his title at this year’s Paralympic Games.
Chinese Taipei Paralympic Committee (CTPC) president Linda Chen (陳李綢) said possible interference from the Chinese Olympic Committee for political reasons may have been behind the announcement.
Chiang won gold medals in the F13 Men’s Javelin at the Sydney and Athens Paralympics, setting a world record in Athens with a throw of 57.28m. He also won the gold medal at the four-yearly International Sports World Games in Brazil last year.
In February this year, the CTPC received a letter from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) informing them that, although Chiang met the minimum conditions for participation, he had not been accredited for the Games. No reason was given.
Aside from Chiang, 2006 IPC Athletics World Championships javelin gold medal winner Chen Ming-tsai (陳明財) has also been excluded from the Paralympics.
Linda Chen expressed disappointment and dismay.
“We have objected to the IPC and the Beijing Olympic Committee through various avenues, but received no clear reply and no other explanation is to be found,” Chen said.
At the meeting of the preparatory committee for the Beijing Olympics in May, Lai Fu-huan (賴復寰), a member of the CTPC’s standing committee, asked the IPC’s technical director and technical delegates on the athletics subcommittee about the matter, but to no avail.
“For the IPC to make such a decision, China must be interfering behind the scenes,” Lai said.
Chiang Chih-chung, although disappointed, has no choice but to accept the decision.
“My role is just to do my best as a competitor,” he said. “I don’t understand the changing rules of the game. Taiwan has all along been in a weak position and pushed around by China. The vision of singing our anthem in the stadium in Beijing is what has motivated me to keep training for the last couple of years.”
Sports Affairs Council Chairwoman Tai Shia-ling (戴遐齡) said there should be a standard procedure for deciding whether or not athletes can take part in sports events.
If China has blocked Chiang from the Games for no reason, then it might have political implications, but the matter needs investigation, she said.