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Taiwan reviewing rule barring Olympic gold medalist from endorsing beer brand

Wang Chi-lin considered civil servant since he plays for state bank's badminton team

Lee Yang (left), Wang Chi-lin with their gold medals on July 31. 

Lee Yang (left), Wang Chi-lin with their gold medals on July 31.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After Lee Yang (李洋) and Wang Chi-lin (王齊麟) won gold medals in the badminton men’s doubles at the Tokyo Olympics last weekend, Wang expressed his wish to become a spokesman for a Taiwanese beer brand.

However, as both Lee and Wang are listed as employees of a state-owned firm, regulations bar them from appearing in commercials.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF), the supervising authority of their employer, the Land Bank of Taiwan, said Wednesday (Aug. 4) that it would ask the Ministry of Civil Service for its opinion on the matter, CNA reported.

During a live broadcast on Monday (Aug. 2), Wang said he had noticed that Gold Medal Taiwan Beer had introduced special Olympic-themed packaging. He praised the move, adding that he hoped he could officially endorse the product.

Ting Yen-che (丁彥哲), chairman of Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation (TTL), which brews the beer, heard about Wang’s wish. He said he was interested in discussing the topic with both Olympic champions after their return to Taiwan.

However, because both badminton players are members of the Land Bank of Taiwan’s team, they are considered government employees and are therefore subject to a rule banning civil servants from holding other jobs and earning extra money, reports said. Any income earned from commercials would end up in the bank's hands, according to the rule.

The government is reportedly discussing the possibility of allowing athletes to endorse products without it clashing with the regulations for civil servants.