Referendum to scrap 'Chinese Taipei' to proceed no matter the outcome: Govt. Spokesperson

Kolas Yokata responds to Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee complaints suggesting referendum may jeopardize Taiwanese athletes' participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – This week the chairman of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, Lin Hong-dow (林鴻道), has stirred fears around the upcoming referendum aimed at scrapping the “Chinese Taipei” designation ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Lin, as Chief Olympic Committee officer in Taiwan, warned that if the public referendum to change the team name from “Chinese Taipei” to “Taiwan” were to pass, there is a chance that Taiwanese athletes may be barred from participation in the Tokyo games.

Responding to the statements of Lin, on Tuesday, Nov. 6, Executive Yuan Spokesperson Kolas Yotaka stated, “That is something the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will have to address. It has already been agreed the name change referendum will proceed.”

Kolas continued to say that the government must respect the decision of the citizens, but in the end, Taiwan also has to respect the decisions of the IOC.

When asked by a reporter if a positive result on the referendum might mean the termination of Taiwan’s membership with the IOC, Kolas replied “That is not the result that we hope for.”

She said that assuming such a hypothetical outcome at this stage would be jumping to conclusions. First and foremost, the referendum is intended to recognize the views and wishes of the voting public.

Whatever the result of the referendum, Kolas emphasized that the matter would be handled according to the law and would respect the wishes of the people of Taiwan.

She also noted that the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) is a non-governmental body, and as a civil organization, CTOC officers are free to express their views on the issue, reports UDN.

According to the revised Referendum Act, five televised debates are required for each referendum for both sides to present their case to the voters.

Despite the recent statements of alarm from the CTOC chairman, it is notable that not a single person has stepped forward to defend the name of “Chinese Taipei” in the public forum.

A prominent campaigner for the name change referendum, Chu Meng-Hsiang (朱孟庠), was quoted at the first debate on Nov. 4, where she spoke unopposed, “there is no real opposition to the referendum. It’s been a long time (the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee) has had no basis and no argument, so they don’t dare debate history today,” reports PTS.

Kolas recognized that it will ultimately be up to the IOC to determine whether Taiwan would be permitted to compete in any future international sporting events under a different name than “Chinese Taipei.”

However she also stressed that this was also an issue which reflects on the dignity of Taiwan and the Taiwanese people. “The administration believes that the rights of Taiwanese athletes to participate in international sporting competitions should not be suppressed because of international politics,” she added.

If the referendum were to pass, then it would become the responsibility of Lin Hong-dow and the CTOC to convey the wishes of the Taiwanese people to the IOC and to lobby for the use of the new team title.

Echoing the concerns of the Chinese government, the IOC has previously stated that it will not honor any name change requested as a result of the public referendum. However, in recent weeks, the IOC has been making inquiries into Taiwan's referendum process and asking about potential outcomes.