Protesters block entrance of athletes to Taipei Universiade opening

Delegations only succeeding in entering the stadium at end of planned segment

Protesters prevented delegations from following their flag into the stadium.

Protesters prevented delegations from following their flag into the stadium. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Protesters disrupted the opening of the Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade Saturday evening, preventing most of the 7,700 athletes from walking into the stadium behind the flag of their country.

The Universiade is the largest international sports event ever to be hosted by Taiwan, and has attracted enormous attention within the country.

However, it has been unable to avoid the island's raucous brand of democracy. Protesters against the government’s recent reform of unfair pensions also showed up, leading to clashes which were originally not noticed by the estimated more than 20,000 people watching at the Taipei Stadium.

As usual at any such event, the delegations were supposed to walk around the stadium behind their national flag in alphabetical order. While the athletes from countries like Argentina and Brazil were present in large numbers, major nations like France, Germany and Japan only saw one person carrying the flag, and no athletes.

The reason was that police outside the stadium had decided that for safety reasons, it was better not to let the athletes face the gauntlet of protesters.

At the very end, after the flags from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe had passed by, the team from Taiwan, officially named Chinese Taipei, was able to enter the stadium to loud applause from the public.

On another political note, the five-star red flag of the People’s Republic of China was present in the parade, but nobody walked behind it either. The communist government has only allowed Chinese athletes to participate on an individual basis, not as a national team.

The teams which had been unable to take part in the original parade, did succeed in walking into the stadium at the end of the 90 minutes allotted for that segment of the event.