Rising costs of Universiade blasted

GAME ON::Councilors lashed out at the budget for the sporting event, now set to cost NT$20 billion, and urged that corporate sponsors should be found

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Oct 20, 2012 - Page 3

A report on the preparations for the 2017 Summer Universiade by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) came under fire yesterday as Taipei City councilors criticized the Taipei City Government for its lack of details in the budget plan and the heavy financial burden the international event is placing on the city.

The overall budget for hosting the sporting event is NT$20 billion (US$685.5 million).

While the city government has insisted that the event will boost the city’s international reputation, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) said that the city could end up NT$10 billion in debt because of the event and suggested that Hau should seek sponsorship from business tycoons such as Hon Hai Group chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) and Cher Wang (王雪紅), chairwoman of smartphone maker HTC Corp.

“The NT$10 billion debt will be a black hole for the city’s finances. Mayor Hau should ask his good friends for help and we could name the basketball stadium something like Hon Hai Hall or HTC Hall and save billions,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the Taipei City Council.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) challenged the city over its failure to include the athletes’ village project and the Taipei Dome in the budget plan. The athletes’ village will be built on the site of the Linkou Sports Park in New Taipei City with a budget of NT$3 billion.

“The total budget of the Universiade will be more than NT$32 billion. It is understandable that the city government needs to make adjustments to its budget, but the failure to include the cost of the athletes’ village is apparently an attempt to introduce a lack of transparency into the budget,” he said.

Hau, in defending the Universiade budget, said the athletes’ village will be used to provide social housing for local residents in the future and so the city government listed it as a separate budget to the Universiade’s associated costs.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Tung Chung-yen (童仲彥) further suggested that in order to save money, Hau should serve as the mascot.

“You already feature in so many promotional commercials for the various international events hosted by the city, why not be the mascot for the Summer Universiade? You could be named ‘Sunny Doll Hau’ or ‘Hau Lung-bin the Sunny Doll’ for the sports event and that could save money for the city. It’s a win-win situation,” Tung said.

New Party Taipei City Councilor Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯), on the other hand, slammed Hau and Taipei City’s Department of Sports for failing to include the details of the budget plan.

“This is a report on the Universiade preparations, but the budget plan offers no details. The NT$5 million budget for the operations and management, for example, is too general. How are we going to review the budget without the details?” he said.

Ho Chin-liang (何金樑), department commissioner, promised to present more information.