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NHK anchor introduces 'Taiwan' team at Tokyo Olympics

Instead of 'Chinese Taipei,' athletes and fans thrilled to hear 'Taiwan' as they enter Olympic Stadium Friday night

Olympic weightlifting champion Kuo Hsing-chun and tennis player Lu Yen-hsun lead the Taiwan team in Japan. 

Olympic weightlifting champion Kuo Hsing-chun and tennis player Lu Yen-hsun lead the Taiwan team in Japan.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Instead of being introduced as "Chinese Taipei," Taiwanese athletes were thrilled to hear the national team referred to as "Taiwan" at the opening ceremony of the COVID-delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics on Friday (July 23).

Politicians and fans back in Taiwan watching the live streams quickly shared their joy on social media, thanking Japan, the host of the games, for bringing the country a moment of pride. At previous Olympics the country has been introduced by the demeaning name of "Chinese Taipei" because of China's influence in international sports organizations.

Taiwan and Japan ties have warmed considerably, especially after Japan donated 3.3 million AstraZeneca doses over the past two months.

Another breakthrough at the opening ceremony was each team marching into the Olympic Stadium in accordance with Japan's 50-tone sound phonetic system, rather than the traditional alphabetical order. The Taiwan team was supposed to join the line for chi (チ), if competing as "Chinese-Taipei," but was instead allowed to join the line representing ta (タ).

Led by Olympic weightlifting champion Kuo Hsing-chun (郭婞淳) and tennis player Lu Yen-hsun (盧彦勳), as the country's flag-bearers, the Taiwan team marched out between South Korea and Tajikistan on Friday night. When the team was introduced, the NHK anchor called out "Taiwan" rather than "Chinese Taipei."

Legislator Wang Wan-yu (王婉諭) and Taipei City councilor Lin Ying-meng (林穎孟) posted about the touching moment on their Facebook fan pages right after the broadcast. Wang expressed her hope that one day the Taiwan team could join the parade using its real name everywhere in the world.

The name "Chinese Taipei" has been used at international sports events for over 40 years, but the national team has been called "Formosa" and "Taiwan." It has also been referred to as "Republic of China," before 1981, ironically at China's insistence, when the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) were competing to represent "China" in international organizations and at events.