Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), the president of the Kaohsiung Organizing Committee for The World Games 2009, yesterday urged the government to negotiate with the International World Games Association (IWGA) to allow President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to preside over the July 16 opening of the games.
Chen said she had already invited Ma to announce the opening of the Kaohsiung World Games, adding that it was the responsibility of every Taiwanese to defend the nation's dignity, regardless of his or her political persuasion.
Calling on the IWGA to respect the will of the host country, Chen, of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, voiced her desire to have Ma preside over the opening of the biggest sports event ever to take place in the country and possibly the biggest challenge she has faced since taking office two years ago.
The Kaohsiung City Government will write and ask the Sports Affairs Council to consider how Ma should attend the opening ceremony to benefit the nation to the greatest possible extent, Chen said.
Chen made the remarks after the Kaohsiung Organizing Committee received an e-mail from the IWGA on Thursday urging the organizer to follow the international association's “practice” of not having the head of state announce the opening of the games.
Hsu Ming-chun (??, director of Kaohsiung City's Department of Information, later that day confirmed that the committee had received a letter dated Wednesday from IWGA president Ron Froehlich saying that no head of state of any country had announced the opening of the quadrennial World Games since its founding in 1981.
The letter stated that all seven previous games were opened by the IWGA president or his proxy, Hsu said.
It also said that for The World Games in Kaohsiung, the IWGA president or his proxy could present Ma as a special guest to give the games his blessing, allowing the president to receive the best possible welcome and respect, Hsu said.
However, World Games rules state that the head of the state of the host country may be invited by the president of the IWGA to declare the games event open as a guest of honor.
Hsu said the city had received another e-mail from the IWGA yesterday morning, which said it would invite Ma as a special guest to the Games.
The Kaohsiung City Government has built a 45,000-capacity main stadium with a solar-paneled roof for the games from July 16 to July 26.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER