Close  

China snubs ‘Little Olympics’ opening ceremony in Taiwan

/ 08:56 PM August 19, 2017

This picture taken on August 11, 2017 shows a student demonstrating teetotum skills to celebrate the upcoming Summer Universiade in Taipei.
Taiwan is about to host its largest ever sporting event, attracting thousands of athletes from around the world, but the World University Games, dubbed the “Little Olympics”, has highlighted tensions with China and Taiwan’s struggle for international recognition. The biennial Summer Universiade will draw more than 7,000 student athletes to Taipei for two weeks from August 19, to compete in sports from basketball to swimming to Chinese martial arts. / AFP PHOTO / Sam YEH / TO GO WITH Universiade-2017-Taiwan-China-politics-diplomacy, FOCUS by Michelle YUN

China boycotted the opening ceremony of the World University Games hosted by Taiwan on Saturday in the latest reflection of deteriorating relations between the two sides.

The biennial Summer Universiade, dubbed the “Little Olympics,” is the largest ever sporting event Taipei hosts but it has also highlighted tensions with Beijing and the island’s struggle for international recognition.

ADVERTISEMENT

It is the first time Taiwan has held the Games, but even on home turf it must compete as “Chinese Taipei” and is unable to fly its national flag or play its national anthem because of Beijing’s sensitivities.

The two sides split after a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still sees the self-ruled island as part of its territory and objects to any official diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.

FEATURED STORIES

Relations have deteriorated since Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office in May last year, with Beijing cutting off all official communications.

At the opening event, Tsai was introduced as the president of “the Republic of China”, Taiwan’s official name, which China does not recognise. She waved to the audiences but did not give a speech.

Thousands of student athletes from around the world donned their team uniforms or traditional dress and walked behind the sign showing the name of their country and their national flags to the cheering crowd in Taipei Stadium.

However, no Chinese athletes showed up to walk behind the staffer holding China’s national flag. Local media said China was absent due to the reference of Tsai as president.

Taipei’s mayor Ko Wen-je is widely seen to have secured Chinese athletes’ attendance during his visit to Shanghai in July to attend a city exchange forum.

But he said he had drawn the line at Chinese officials’ request for Tsai only to be called “leader” at the opening ceremony, not “president”.

In the current climate, some expected Chinese athletes to boycott the Universiade entirely.

ADVERTISEMENT

Instead, they will compete in individual events but sit out the team sports, citing a clash with their own national games.

Outside the stadium, there were chaotic scenes when dozens of protesters opposing the government’s pension reforms scuffled with pro-DPP groups briefly blocking an athlete’s entrance and delaying part of the ceremony.

Protest groups also forced some buses taking athletes to the event to detour.

The rest of the opening ceremony Saturday night will showcase Taiwanese culture and lifestyle, including indigenous dance and songs as well as performances using electric scooters.

Pop star Leehom Wang is set to perform near the end of the show before baseball player Chen Chin-feng lights the Universiade flame to formally open the games, followed by a firework show.

Read Next
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: China, Sports, Taipei, universiade
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.