The Executive Yuan has allocated NT$6.3 billion (US$224.9 million) for a third phase of the National Sports Park Project and Training Plan for Sports Personnel (國家運動園區整體興設與人才培育計畫) since 2019, Executive Yuan spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said yesterday.
The announcement comes during a controversy over seating arrangements on a charter flight for the nation’s Olympic athletes.
Lo said that he hopes the seating issue will not distract from the government’s ongoing efforts to support the nation’s athletes.
Photo courtesy of Jhongshan Elementary School
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) told legislators at a plenary session early this year that all national team athletes would be seated in business class on charter flights to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
However, on Monday’s flight to Tokyo, badminton player Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) took a photograph of herself sitting in economy class, and wrote that she missed flying with EVA Airways and sitting in business class.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Su soon apologized for the oversight, while Sports Administration Director-General Chang Shao-hsi (張少熙) on Tuesday offered to resign to take responsibility for the incident.
Media reports showed that only government officials, coaches and the Chinese Taipei Olympics Committee staff members sat in business class on the flight.
The incident drew much criticism from the public.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Mong-kai (洪孟楷) said that the incident was the result of an oversight by the Executive Yuan’s Sports Development Committee, which has not convened for 18 months.
“We are deeply sorry that the Sports Administration mishandled the situation,” Lo said.
“Premier Su has asked the Ministry of Education to determine whether athletes and their coaches were seated in business class. Sports Administration officials must sit in economy class and stay at hotels that are the same quality as the athletes’ hotels,” Lo said.
Su and Pan care deeply about athletes and their careers, Lo said, adding that Su was a rugby player and Pan was an athlete as well.
The government has done a tremendous amount for athletes, Lo said, including approving a five-year budget for a third phase of national sports projects.
The government also budgeted NT$1.52 billion to help top athletes who retire transition into coaching careers, Lo said.
Thirty retired athletes have been recruited into the coaching program, he said, adding that the government plans to hire 70 more coaches following the Tokyo Games.
To prepare the nation’s athletes for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and Paris, the government has budgeted NT$300 million annually for the Golden Player Program, which provides athletes with assistance from professionals, Lo added.
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