The government is working to ensure that a group of Taiwanese divers can participate in a freediving competition in Cyprus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, following media reports that the country does not recognize Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccination certificate.
The divers, four men and one woman, are scheduled to depart soon for the Mediterranean island nation ahead of next month’s AIDA Depth World Championship, but encountered problems about immigration.
The Cypriot government does not recognize Taiwan’s international COVID-19 vaccination certificate, and the country’s online disembarkation form for foreigners does not list “Taiwan” as a nationality option, meaning the divers would have to identify themselves as visitors from China, the Chinese-language Sanlih E-Television (SET) reported Monday.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times
Officials at the Taipei Representative Office in Greece, which also oversees relations with Cyprus, have privately recommended that the divers not identify themselves as having been vaccinated against COVID-19 to avoid problems upon arrival, it reported.
Department of European Affairs Deputy Director-General Kendra Chen (陳詠韶) told an online news briefing yesterday that the ministry has twice urged the office to ensure that the divers can enter Cyprus and participate in the competition.
Cyprus lists Taiwan among “orange category” countries, meaning visitors from Taiwan can enter the country without undergoing compulsory isolation if they present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result issued within 72 hours of boarding their flight, she said.
The Cypriot government divides countries and regions into “green,” “orange” and “red” categories depending on the local pandemic situation, its online portal showed.
As for Taiwan not being listed as a country on the online disembarkation form, Chen said the office has repeatedly tried to reach the Cypriot government and the event organizer.
“The case is pertinent to national dignity and people’s rights,” and the ministry would do its best to ensure the divers join the competition, she said.
The championship is to be held from Sept. 20 to 30, AIDA Taiwan representative Wang Wen-yen (王文彥) said yesterday.
The divers are communicating with the ministry in the hope that they can enter Cyprus and join the competition, he said.
Some of the divers have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while some have received two doses, he said, adding that they have been urged to tell Cypriot authorities that they had not been vaccinated.
Taiwan Freediving Development Association spokesman Wu Ping-yu (吳秉宥) said that the association represents Taiwan as a member of the AIDA, and the divers participate in the AIDA championship as a national team.
To ensure that the divers can enter Cyprus, the association might suggest that they identify as coming from China and undergo PCR testing before their flight, he said.
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