The East Asian Olympic Committee’s decision to revoke Taichung’s right to host the first East Asian Youth Games inadvertently raised public support for Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung’s (林佳龍) re-election bid, a Cross-Strait Policy Association survey showed yesterday.
The survey was conducted on Monday and Tuesday, about a week after the committee’s decision was made.
Chinese committee members made the suggestion in response to a proposed referendum to change the name of the national sports team from “Chinese Taipei” to “Taiwan” for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which they said would expose the Games to “political uncertainty.”
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
The survey among Taichung adults found that 77.3 percent of the respondents knew the city’s right to host the Games was revoked.
While 61.5 percent of the respondents said it was unreasonable that the Games were canceled because of the referendum, only 41.9 percent cited the referendum as the main reason for the cancelation.
About 30 percent said that the referendum was not the main reason and 27.9 percent either said they did not know or refused to answer, the survey found.
Asked who should be responsible for the incident, 40.5 percent said Beijing, while 31.5 percent said the Taiwanese government.
Despite the cancelation, 71.1 percent of respondents said that the city should continue to build the sports venues intended for the Games, while more than 80 percent said that they supported Lin’s appeal to reinstate the Games.
Regarding satisfaction over Lin’s handling of the incident, 57.6 percent said that they were satisfied, while 22.7 percent said they were dissatisfied.
The survey also gauged how the incident affected Lin’s approval rating. It found that 43.2 percent of voters support Lin’s re-election bid, while his main competitor, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕), garnered support from only 24.4 percent.
Lin also led the favorability rating by 25.6 percentage points, the survey found.
The Taichung mayoral election to be held in November is widely considered to be a close race, National Taiwan Normal University Graduate Institute of Political Science professor Fan Shih-ping (范世平) said, adding that the result would also be considered a bellwether for the 2020 presidential race.
As such, the KMT and the Democratic Progressive Party see Taichung as a key battleground, he said.
The survey shows that the incident is personal for residents, as more than three-quarters of the respondents said that they knew about it, Fan said.
The incident has put Lu in an awkward position, because his campaign manager, Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), recently accompanied former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Fan said, adding that Chiang also took some KMT legislators to meet with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Director Liu Jieyi (劉結一).
Despite these visits, China still ruthlessly canceled Taichung’s right to host the Games, he said, adding that Chiang did not utter a single word of objection, even though he represents Taichung voters.
Lu has made a statement on the issue, but both Chiang and Lu are being perceived as too weak to defend the rights of their constituents, Fan said.
By contrast, Lin hosted an international news conference and appealed to reverse the cancelation, he said.
Taichung secured the right to host the Games under former Taichung mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) of the KMT, he said, adding that China let the city win the bid to boost Hu’s chance for re-election.
Similar to how China’s Civil Aviation Administration forced 44 airlines around the world to stop listing Taiwan as a country, the incident serves as another example of how Chinese officials try to please Xi by oppressing Taiwan, Fan said.
“By buttering up Xi, officials of the Chinese State General Administration of Sports actually enraged and united Taiwanese, and helped boost Lin’s re-election chances,” he said.
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