The Organizing Committee for the Beijing Olympic Games (BOCOG) on Friday called
a news conference where BOCOG executive vice president and
spokesperson Jiang Xiaoyu spoke on Taipei's decision to reject
being a stop on the Olympic torch's journey, expressing the dismay
and disappointment this decision has caused.
"Last night BOCOG announced the planned route of the Beijing
Olympic Games torch relay, which had been approved by the
International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the arrangement of the
route strictly follows the Olympic Charter and the relevant rules
and regulations of the IOC," he said.
BOCOG learned from media reports that Taiwanese authorities
along with the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee had back-tracked on
an earlier pledge to welcome the torch and had now rejected any
chance of it passing through the island, said Jiang.
The arrival of the Olympic torch in Taipei had been a source of
much anticipation by our Taiwanese compatriots who have made their
feelings heard in many ways, he added.
Original invitations by BOCOG to various Olympic committees,
under whose jurisdiction the torch will pass, went out in November
2006. The original response from the island province was positive
with Tsai Chen-wei, chairman of the Chinese Taipei Olympic
Committee, accepting the invitation on December 28, 2006.
The procedures were further confirmed in March when Tsai
contacted BOCOG to confirm Taipei would welcome the flame on April
30 and May 1, welcoming it from Vietnam before sending it on to
However, this positive attitude was dimmed suddenly on April 20
when a letter from Tsai made an unusual request – that the torch
enter and leave Taiwan through third-party nations – effectively
nixing earlier plans to see the torch move on to Hong Kong from
Tsai blamed "issues beyond our sports community's control" for
the change, adding a politically-charged statement that "Taiwan's
status as an independent sovereign state would be degraded if the
Olympic flame travels to Hong Kong via Taipei, so my authorities
request that the relay enter into Taipei and exit Taipei through
This decision being effectively in breach of agreements signed
by both sides, BOCOG expressed its astonishment stating the request
as "going against the consensus reach by both sides as well as
going back on Taipei's earlier written confirmation."
On April 26, BOCOG held a lavish ceremony in Beijing and
unveiled both the scroll-inspired torch and the route through which
it will travel. The route is set to take the torch to every part of
China and was planned to go from Taipei to Hong Kong. However, less
than two hours after this announcement, Taiwan authorities dropped
this bombshell, marring the fallout of what was otherwise a
heart-warming and auspicious event.
Jiang further criticized the move for being in violation of the
Olympic Charter and the IOC's principle of keeping sports and
politics firmly apart. He called the Olympic flame "the symbol of
Olympic spirit, and the Olympic torch relay is a grand celebration
of mankind that represents peace and friendship."
He left the door open for Taipei to change its standpoint saying
that "we still hope that the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee and
its authorities will focus on the interests of our Taiwan
compatriots and the Olympic Movement, and make good the consensus
the two parties have reached and the route that has been confirmed.
Therefore, the good wishes of our Taiwan compatriots to participate
in the Olympic torch relay will come true."
Criticisms rained down on Taiwan authorities from their own
opposition parties, ridiculing claims from Taiwan independence
advocates that the plan would "belittle Taiwan".
Yok Mu-ming, chairman of the New Party, blamed electoral
opportunism for the decision, saying that authorities thought the
plan might give them a poll boost.
"The Taiwan masses will never support that (rejection)," Yok
said during a visit to the Olympic sites in Beijing ahead of a
mainland-Taiwan cooperation forum.
He said ordinary people in Taiwan had been elated when Beijing
was awarded the 2008 Olympic Games with many planning to make the
journey across the Taiwan Straits to enjoy the show.
"Taiwan people's enthusiasm for the Beijing Olympics will never
ebb," Yok said.
Kuan Chung, vice chairman of the Kuomintang, echoed Yok saying
that hosting the Olympics was "a glory for all Chinese" and that
"politics should never intrude this event."
(Xinhua News Agency April 28, 2007)