The Universiade gets political: inviting Chen Shui-bian and encouraging Taiwan flags

How Taipei should represent itself at the Universiade becomes a hot topic

Mayor Ko discusses the decision to invite President Chen Shui-bian to the Universiade. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)  — Taipei City Council representative, Wang Hong-wei (王鴻薇), reported that the Council decided to invite all previous Taipei mayors and Taiwan heads of state to attend the Universiade, including the controversial decision to invite Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). The decision to encourage fans to bring Taiwan flags to the Universiade became the focus of the meeting.

Following China's decision to not compete in Taipei's Universiade, the event has been increasingly politicized. Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) expressed concern that these decisions will skew the focus from more important matters, such as Taipei, competing athletes, and cross-strait pressures. 

Representative Wang questioned the appropriateness of the former President’s attendance. Chen is a prisoner on medical release, should he be included in this important event? The Universiade will be a major political event for Taiwan and the Council felt former figureheads should be included.

Mayor Ke stressed that the Universiade honored guests were chosen by the legislative council, not him. Nor is this the first time former President Chen has been included in official national activities, referring to the release of presidential liquors in 2016. 

Former President Chen has not yet announced how he will RSVP.

When asked whether spectators should be encouraged to bring national flags at the Universiade, Mayor Ko was caught off guard. He skirted the question but was pressed to state his opinion. He replied that this question is too complex to answer simply.

Mayor Ko reiterated that Taiwan’s political situation is no secret. His primary concentration is to prepare as best he can for the Games so that the events may run smoothly.

Ko finally concluded that he encourages fans to bring Taiwan flags to show athletes support, but did not elaborate on his reasoning.