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INTERVIEW: Taiwan should create its own tournaments, sports head says

Taiwan should launch its own sports events and hold international ‘Taiwan’ Open events based on categories that the nation is skilled in to attract foreign athletes and counter Chinese oppression, Sports Administration Director-General Kao Chin-hsung said in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) staff reporter Wang Yuan-hung

Sports Administration Director-General Kao Chin-hsung speaks during an interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on July 23.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): Can you give specific examples of how sports policies under your auspices will differ from the past?

Kao Chin-hsung (高俊雄): President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has pledged to exponentially increase the agency’s budget within eight years. Premier William Lai (賴清德) has also announced three financial packages since assuming office, two of which are sports-related: sports facilities in the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program and increased funding for the East Asian Youth Games.

The Executive Yuan has set up a Sports Development Committee, which serves as a cross-ministry platform that is to coordinate allocation of the additional funding and resources.

The policies that created the Sports Administration — the promotion of competitive and general sports, and the establishment of competitive sports, general sports, infrastructure and international affairs divisions — are well thought out and need only slight tweaking.

Imagine the facade of an ancient Greek temple. At the top sits the International Sports Affairs Division, supported by three central pillars. The sports industry forms the heart of the temple, while competitive sports and general sports are the colonnades to either side. All of this is supported by basic sports education and sports infrastructure.

In short, the development of sports cannot lean on government subsidies forever. It must be supported by a sports industry. In other countries, competitive sports and general sports are a robust industry that can support the entire structure.

While the government has invested an unprecedented amount of public money in sports, the Sports Lottery, which funds the Sports Development Fund, and the Sports Industry Development Act (運動產業發展條例) are two more sources that help with the promotion of sports.

Some ancillary laws must be drafted, but overall these efforts will help increase the level of sports proficiency, as well as the competitiveness of the sports industry.

LT: Shortly after you assumed office, Taichung’s right to host the East Asian Youth Games was revoked. How should Taiwan respond?

Kao: China is attempting to block the Chinese Taipei membership that Taiwan uses to participate in international sports events, so that if Taiwan wants to regain membership, China would demand adherence to the precedent set by the nation’s WHO participation, with China acting on behalf of Taiwan. That is the goal of China’s suppression measures.

Under the 1981 agreement between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC), Taiwan has the same rights as all IOC members and stands on an equal footing with China.

This is the area where Taiwan is least impeded on the global stage. Considering all factors, we have concluded that as China’s global influence expands, it could use its political clout on the IOC Executive Board to blame Taiwan for the suspension of the East Asian Youth Games and propose to revoke Chinese Taipei’s membership.

According to the Olympic Charter, which was revised in 1996, if a member has been suspended and wants to regain membership, it needs to be an official member of an international organization to apply.

IOC member Wu Ching-kuo (吳經國) has said that the clause was put in place by then-IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch to prevent Catalonia from applying. Now, it might become a tool for China to exclude Taiwan.

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