Taiwan will not send a team to next year’s Gay Games in Hong Kong because of fears that their athletes and staff could be arrested if they wave the nation’s flag or use its name, the Taiwan Gay Sports and Movement Association said.
“We have decided not to send a national delegation, as we don’t expect to be able join as Taiwan and to ensure personal safety of the athletes,” association president Yang Chih-chun (楊智鈞) said.
Yang said that the association, which is a member of the Federation of Gay Games, would assist any Taiwanese who wanted to attend in a personal capacity.
However, “we won’t actively encourage individual participation, since there’s no guarantee of a player’s personal safety because under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, arrests can be made under any excuse,” he said.
China has used the National Security Law to snuff out dissent in the territory after it was rocked by protests two years ago.
Yang said he feared athletes that could easily “cross the red line” if they spoke their minds.
Hong Kong is to host the 11th Gay Games in November next year.
It has been hosted by cities in the US, Australia and Europe.
The Gay Games said in a statement it would follow the convention of Taiwan being called either “Chinese Taipei” or “Taiwan region.”
Athletes from Taiwan and the association were welcome to attend, organizers said.
“We are strictly non-partisan and non-political, and we ask all participants and visitors to respect and observe local laws and customs during their stay in Hong Kong,” it said.
At the 2018 Games in Paris, Taiwanese participants said that they came under pressure from organizers not to fly the flag of the Republic of China.
Ultimately, they waved it at the opening ceremony while holding a banner reading “Taiwan.”
Doing that in Hong Kong could lead to arrest.
Criticism of China by any athlete could also be risky given that the National Security Law forbids any act deemed to be subversion or secession — and the law covers all nationalities.
Hong Kong was announced as the next Gay Games host in 2017, two years before the democracy protests and subsequent crackdown.
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