Army Command Headquarters has approved a request for leave filed by Corporal Pan Yu-hsun (潘佑熏), serving in the 562 Brigade of the 6th Army Corps, late on Thursday so that he and his group, Boyz in the Hood, could attend the Trophee Masters 2016 Battle International break-dance event in France after another member of the dance group wrote a plea to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Facebook.
Kuo Chih-hang (郭季杭) pleaded with Tsai to allow Pan to take leave from the military so the group could compete in Toulouse on Sept. 24.
“We may not be basketball or baseball players, but our group hopes to expose Taiwan to the world. The chance for Taiwanese groups to attend an international event, broadcast live around the world, is an excellent opportunity to let the world see what Taiwanese can achieve,” Kuo wrote.
The Ministry of National Defense had initially rejected Pan’s request on the grounds that break dancing is not an officially recognized sport by the Sports Administration.
Kuo said that when the Street Dance Cultural Association made the same plea, the ministry said that the association is not officially recognized.
Kuo attached a video of the group to his Facebook post and asked Tsai to watch it. He said it was representative of the group’s determination to represent Taiwan on the international stage and compete with other international teams.
While the post received 14,000 “likes,” netizens’ opinions on the issue were varied.
Some were adamant supporters, saying that there was no reason not to make an exception for Pan to take leave, as he was in effect representing the nation.
They said that, being more casual, break-dance events allow Taiwanese participants and fans to openly display the national flag.
The national flag does not usually appearing at international sports events due to Chinese pressure and teams usually have to use the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag.
However, others voiced concerns, saying that while it was understandable that one would like to make their country proud by winning an international event, it could prove to be a bad precedent, as more individuals would try to circumvent the system by asking the president to intervene.
The group have the right to represent Taiwan in France after winning the SYM Trophee Masters Taiwan competition on Aug. 21.
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