The top 7 sporting events in Taiwan

Communist China may have deprived Taiwan of the East Asian Youth Games, but there are plenty of other big sporting events in Taiwan to enjoy


(By Wikimedia Commons)

The cancellation of the East Asian Youth Games (東亞青年運動會) in Taichung last year, at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party is a blow to sport in the country. But Taiwan should reassure itself that the decision was taken on a purely political basis and is no reflection on either Taiwanese sporting ability and integrity, or its ability to host major sporting events.

Indeed, Taiwan has a long track record of hosting successful sporting events, with everything from the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung to last year's Universiade in Taipei being carried off successfully. But as well as these occasional multi-sport events, Taiwan also hosts many regular single sports events. Sadly, these events often do not receive the level of publicity or attract the sizable crowds, that they deserve. But nevertheless, they are something that Taiwan should be proud of.

In this article, we highlight our picks of the biggest sporting events in Taiwan. If we have missed any of your favorites out, why not share them with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages?

7. Wanjinshi Marathon - 新北市萬金石馬拉松

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There are lots of marathons taking place all over Taiwan, but the Wanjinshi Marathon, which takes place in New Taipei City, is Taiwan's only silver label marathon as designated by the International Association of Athletics Federations. It has grown rapidly since first being run in 2003 and today attracts plenty of international competitors.

The route takes runners along Taiwan’s northern coast, starting and finishing in Pacific Green Bay in Wanli District (萬里區) and running north through Jinshan District (金山區) and Shimen District (石門區) before turning around and running back. This year's event saw Japanese runner Yuki Kawauchi defeat a host of East African competitors, with the highest Taiwanese finisher, Ting Yin-Jhou (周庭印) finishing 10th overall.

6. Chinese Professional Baseball League - 中華職棒大聯盟

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Baseball is a big deal in Taiwan, but much of the focus is placed on MLB from the USA, which is almost ubiquitous on TV screens in cafes and bars across the country. However, there is a domestic league running too, which also gets plenty of TV coverage, but doesn't always attract big crowds to the matches themselves. This is in part due to a series of match-fixing scandals which dogged the league here in recent years. But it could also be down to the fact that the league only consists of four teams and each of those are tied to big companies rather than cities or localities.

As things stand, teams find it hard to attract a loyal following. But, the standard of play is still pretty high and if you are a fan of the game it is worth checking out one of the Chinatrust Brothers (中信兄弟) in Taichung, Fubon Guardians (富邦悍將) in New Taipei City, Lamigo Monkeys (Lamigo桃猿) in Taoyuan or the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions (統一7-ELEVEN獅) in Tainan.

5. LPGA Taiwan Championship - 女子職業高爾夫球賽

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The Taiwan Championship is one of the biggest events on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Calendar. Taking place this year from October 25– 28 at the Tashee Golf and Country Club in Taoyuan, the event is now in its eighth year. It offers a prize purse of more than US$2.2 million and attracts some of the women's golf circuits best players.

Previous winners include Norway's Suzann Pettersen, Australian Lydia Ko, and last year South Korean Eun-Hee Ji. Women's golf is a big deal in this part of the world and this event always attracts big crowds.

4. WTA Taiwan Open - 台灣公開賽

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The Taiwan Open is a hard-court WTA event which takes place in Taipei. These days it takes place at the Heping Basketball Gymnasium in Taipei, but in its first year, it was held in Kaohsiung, with women's tennis superstar Venus Williams being crowned champion and winning the US$1,000,000 top prize.

These days, with a US$250,000 prize fund, the event still attracts some big names from women's tennis with the likes of Canadian Eugenie Bouchard and German Sabine Lisicki both taking part in this year's tournament, which was won by Hungary's Tímea Babos, who is currently ranked no. 40 in the world.

3. William Jones Cup International Basketball - 威廉瓊斯盃國際籃球賽

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If there is any sport which rivals baseball for dominance in the Taiwan market it is basketball. And while Taiwan's semi-professional Super Basketball League struggles to capture the public imagination and attract crowds to most of its games, the William Jones Cup has long been a fixture on many Taiwanese basketball fans calendars. It has been held since 1977 and is named in honor of basketball promoter Renato William Jones, one of the founders of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

The William Jones Cup is a tournament which attracts global attention and is often used as a warm-up for bigger events such as the Olympic Basketball Tournament and the FIBA World Cup. Professional, collegiate, and international teams from across the world are invited to take part and, as it is not a FIBA endorsed event, Taiwan is able to compete as the Republic of China rather than Chinese Taipei.

2. Yonex Chinese Taipei Open - 中華台北羽球公開賽

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The Yonex Chinese Taipei Open is one of the biggest tournaments on the professional badminton circuit. Held at the Taipei Arena in Taipei City, it is one of just 11 Super 300 tournaments held on the Badminton World Federation World Tour. Prize money for winning the Yonex Open is a cool US$500,000 so it is no wonder that the event sees the world's very best badminton players descending on Taiwan.

This year's event takes place from October 2-7 and with homegrown player Chou Tien-chen (周天成) bidding for a third successive men's singles title and Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) also looking to win her third title, it promises to be a scintillating event with a partisan Taiwanese crowd roaring on their heroes.

1. Tour de Taiwan - 國際自由車環台公路大賽

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Taiwan's premier cycling event, the Tour de Taiwan, is the biggest event of one of Taiwan's flagship sports. Lots of effort and resource has been pumped into promoting Taiwan as a cycling destination and the Tour de Taiwan as a serious competitive cycling event, the Tour de Taiwan plays a big role.

It is recognized by the Union Cycliste Internationale as part of its Asia tour. The five-day event usually sees around 160 cyclists from 30 countries taking part. The route varies a little each year but always takes in some of Taiwan's most scenic areas. This year's Tour started in Taipei before visiting Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Nantou County (including Sun Moon Lake) and finishing in Pingtung County.