Taiwan's flag seen waving among the audience at Universiade opening ceremony

Although the name and flag of Chinese Taipei were used by the authorities, audience members managed to wave the Taiwan flag at the opening ceremony.

The Taiwan flag is seen in the audience seat of the Universiade opening ceremony. (Source: CNA)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Due to pressure from China, the name Chinese Taipei and a separate flag have long been used by Taiwanese athletes to represent their team and country at international sports games, and while the 2017 Taipei Summer Universiade was no exception to this political arrangement, many Taiwanese people managed to wave the Taiwan flag in the audience seats for Saturday’s opening ceremony.

The use of Chinese Taipei to represent Taiwan as a country and a geographical term in the media guide of the Universiade had sparked heated debates in the previous weeks among Taiwanese netizens, politicians, and athletes. 

Taiwan was later put back in the media guide to refer to the host place, but Chinese Taipei remains the official name of the Taiwan team, reports said.  

Realizing that many Taiwanese people were angered by the replacement of Taiwan with Chinese Taipei, Oleg Matytsin, chairman of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), said at a news conference Saturday morning, “Using the term Chinese Taipei may disappoint some people, but the Universiade had to comply with the rules of the Olympics."

Taiwan has used the name Chinese Taipei to represent itself in the Olympics since 1981, reported the NT Times. The name was originally taken by the then Kuomintang-led nationalist government which began ruling Taiwan in 1949. In recent years, however, despite of the fact that Taiwan has expressed in many occasions the wish to use Taiwan to represent itself, it was repeatedly prohibited because of the insistence of the Chinese authorities. 

As a result, in the opening ceremony on Saturday night, the Chinese Taipei flag, a light blue triangular cloth with two overlapped shapes of the plum blossoms wrapping the sun logo and the Olympic rings in a row, was escorted onto the stage by a group of legendary Taiwanese athletes, including Chi Cheng (紀政), the country's first Olympic medalist who used to fly the Taiwan flag in the Olympic stadium. 

When the ceremony host announced with a high note, “Next we will hoist the Chinese Taipei flag with the Chinese Taipei anthem,” it was the national anthem of Taiwan being played out.

Even though it was absent from the stage of the ceremony, many Taiwanese people managed to bring the Taiwan flag, the one that most people are familiar with, in the audience seats, since the Olympic rules do not prohibit flags brought by the audience. 

As the Universiade competitions are just about to begin, more of the real Taiwan flag is likely to be seen at the stadiums to cheer for the Taiwanese athletes competing for their country in the following days.