Team Taiwan says it will be at Beijing Games opening ceremony
Taiwan’s team for the Beijing Winter Olympics will be at the opening and closing ceremonies after being told by the International Olympic Committee it was required to participate.
Chinese-claimed Taiwan has feared Beijing could “downgrade” Taiwan’s status by putting its athletes alongside those from Chinese-run Hong Kong at the opening ceremony, a senior Taiwan official familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.
Sub-tropical Taiwan, which has no winter sporting tradition and has never won a medal at the winter Games, is sending four athletes to Beijing, the same number as the last winter Games in 2018.
Taiwan had said on Friday the team would not be at the opening or closing ceremonies, blaming delayed flights and tough anti-COVID-19 rules.
But Taiwan’s Olympic committee said late Monday it had received “several notices” from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “requiring all delegations to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to cooperate in sending personnel to attend the opening and closing ceremonies”.
Based on its respect of the Olympic spirit and after discussions with Taiwan’s Sports Administration, they will “adjust” the plan and “cooperate with the policy to send staff to attend the opening and closing ceremonies”.
It did not say how many of the 15-member team, including trainers, would be there.
The Beijing Games are happening amid heightened tensions between China and Taiwan, including repeated Chinese military activity near the island.
Taiwan competes in most sporting events, including the Olympics, as “Chinese Taipei” at the insistence of Beijing, which sees democratically governed Taiwan as part of “one China”.
On Wednesday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office referred to Taiwan’s team as being from “China, Taipei”, rather than the official terminology of “Chinese Taipei”.
That drew a rebuke from Taiwan’s China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council, which said China intentionally used the wrong name.
Author: Ben Blanchard, Reuters