Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and two former mayors of the city yesterday again called on the Sports Affairs Council (SAC) to give financial support to the Kaohsiung Organizing Committee (KOC) of the World Games.
Former Kaohsiung mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) urged the central government to grant the committee the remaining NT$231 million (US$7 million) budget as soon as possible and not discriminate against the city for political reasons.
“[The Games] should transcend divisions between the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] and the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT]. This should be a joyful event for all Taiwanese,” Hsieh said.
The city government has repeatedly accused the central government of being unwilling to support the city in hosting the event since the council froze most of the KOC’s budget request in late February.
Chen said on June 18 that although the Legislative Yuan earlier this year approved NT$845 million in funding for the Games, the SAC was only willing to grant the city government NT$614 million.
The shortfall of NT$231 million has seriously affected the city government’s preparations for the Games with the event fast approaching, she said.
The SAC had argued that it had provided the Kaohsiung City Government with NT$610 million in subsidies to host the Games, but the city had only used about NT$300 million as of June 18.
The SAC said it had no idea what the NT$231 million shortfall in the budget was related to.
“I told [former] premier Hsieh there had indeed been a huge difference between the support we received before and after the DPP lost office,” Chen said yesterday.
Another former mayor, Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), criticized the central government, saying it should not withdraw support for the Games just because “a different political party is now in power.”
Meanwhile, DPP City Councilor Chen Hsin-yu (陳信瑜) said that spectators attending the Games should wear clothing that bears the national flag to promote Taiwan’s global visibility during the games.
“We also hope that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will follow suit,” Chen Hsin-yu said.
A day earlier, Chen Chu swore in some 5,000 volunteers for the international sports extravaganza.
Chen led volunteers from 36 universities and 16 civic groups from around the country in chanting “We Are Ready” at the swearing-in ceremony to signal their determination to offer a good service.
Following the ceremony, Chen and the volunteers scrubbed the seats in the main stadium where the Games will take place to mark the start of the volunteer training camp ahead of the opening of the event on July 16.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA