Taiwan delegation to attend Beijing Olympics ceremonies as 'required'

AFP
Taipei, Taiwan Updated: Feb 02, 2022, 07:24 AM(IST)

Beijing 2022 Olympics Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The local committee's use of the name "Chinese Taipei" is based on a 1981 compromise made with the IOC to allow Taiwan to compete on the international stage without presenting itself as a sovereign nation

Taiwan announced Tuesday a reversal to its weekend decision to forgo the opening and closing of the Beijing Winter Olympics, saying the committee governing the Games was "requiring" attendance at the ceremonies. 

The about-turn comes as relations between Beijing and Taipei are at their lowest in decades, with China ramping up military and economic pressure against the self-ruled democratic island. 

Days earlier, Taiwan's Sports Administration had said it would not be sending its delegation to either of the ceremonies, citing concerns around "pandemic prevention and flight schedules". 

By Tuesday, the island's Olympic committee -- which answers to Taiwan's sports governing body -- said there was a change of plans due to the Games' international governing body "requiring" attendance. 

"(We've) received multiple notices by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) recently requiring all delegations joining the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to cooperate and attend the opening and closing ceremonies," it said. 

"Based on the Olympic spirit of solidarity as well as long-term good interactions and mutual understanding between the two sides, the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee... has decided to adjust plans to send representatives" to both ceremonies. 

The local committee's use of the name "Chinese Taipei" is based on a 1981 compromise made with the IOC to allow Taiwan to compete on the international stage without presenting itself as a sovereign nation.

Authoritarian China regards democratic Taiwan as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if needed.

Record numbers of Chinese jets have entered the island's air defence zone in the past four months.

Taiwan has seen a surge in these kinds of threats since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, when China cut off official communication with her government because she regards Taiwan as an already sovereign nation.

The last time Beijing hosted an Olympics in 2008, relations with Taiwan were much warmer and a group of 80 competitors visited the Summer Games.

This year, only four athletes will be competing in the Winter Games.

Unlike several Western nations, Taipei has not joined a US-led diplomatic boycott of the Games over Beijing's human rights record.

But no government representative will be at the ceremonies due to "precedent", Taiwan's Sports Administration said Tuesday in a statement

The authority said it "respects" the decision made by its Olympics committee to attend the ceremonies. 

It also urged the IOC "to prevent the interference of any political factors to suppress and belittle (Taiwan's) status". 

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