China: Taichung mayor in China to push East Asian Games bid

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu arrived in Beijing Tuesday on the first leg of his July 5-13 tour of China and Japan to lobby for support for the central Taiwan city's bid to host the East Asian Games in 2017.

Hu and his 10-member Taichung City delegation are scheduled to meet Chinese Olympic Committee Chairman Liu Peng Tuesday evening at a dinner at the start of a three-day stop in China's capital.

China's support is considered critical because it is said to control four of the East Asian Games Association's (EAGA's) nine votes -- the votes of China, Hong Kong, Macau, and North Korea.

The other EAGA members are Taiwan, Mongolia, Japan, South Korea and Guam.

From Beijing, Hu and his delegation will head to Tianjin -- the host of the 2013 East Asian Games -- for another two-day visit to visit the East Asian Games Secretariat and meet with the city's Mayor Huang Xingguo.

Hu hopes to pick up some pointers from the city on the bidding process for the Games and learn more about its preparations for the quadrennial regional sports competition.

After visiting China, Hu and his delegation will head to Tokyo, Japan, where they hope to lobby representatives of other EAGA members, who will be in the city for an Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) meeting July 12-13.

The host was originally expected to be decided at an EAGA board meeting in Tianjin in September this year, but it was deferred to February 2012, according to Jacqueline Shen, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee.

Taichung's main rivals to host the 2017 Games are expected to be Ulan Bator in Mongolia and Jeju in South Korea.

During their three-day stay in Beijing, Hu and his group will also visit facilities used during the 2008 Olympic Games, including Beijing National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, and the National Aquatic Center.