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German parliamentarians back Taiwan in youth games row

Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin.

Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin. (AP photo)

Two members of Germany's parliament came to Taiwan's defense Thursday, criticizing China for pressuring the East Asian Olympic Committees (EAOC) into revoking a Taiwanese city's right to host a multi-sport event for young athletes next year.

Klaus-Peter Willsch, chair of the Germany-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, said in a statement that the EAOC made the decision under pressure from China to block Taichung from hosting the East Asian Youth Games scheduled for August 2019, in the process violating the terms of the contract that it signed with the city.

Doing so not only deprived the rights of young athletes to take part in the sports event but also went against the Olympic spirit, he said.

Willsch also expressed concerns over China's coercion of foreign airlines to designate Taiwan as part of China on their websites, saying he was worried China will do more to squeeze Taiwan in the international community.

He urged the world's democratic countries to team up and lodge a serious protest with the EAOC against China's intervention.

Mark Hauptmann, a member of the Christian Democratic Union, challenged China's claim that the scrapping of Taichung's right to host the youth games was a result of a planned referendum in Taiwan.

As a democratic country, Taiwan has the right to initiate a referendum asking its people whether the country should participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games under the name of Taiwan, he argued.

He asked the EAOC to reconsider its decision and reinstate Taichung's hosting rights.

Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung confirmed Monday that the EAOC turned down the city's petition to hold the East Asian Youth Games, noting that he received a letter of rejection from EAOC Chairman Liu Peng on the issue.

According to Lin, the Taichung City government is considering an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, to seek legal recourse, including mediation and arbitration.

Taichung is also thinking of filing a lawsuit against the EAOC and will continue to seek the support of the international community, Lin said. (By Lin Yu-li and Flor Wang)