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Why Taiwan competes in the Olympics as Chinese Taipei


By Tom Yun, Writer

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    TORONTO, Ontario (CTV Network) — At the Tokyo Games, there are 68 athletes from Taiwan competing across 18 sports.

But these athletes can’t compete under the name Taiwan or Republic of China, which is the country’s official name, or fly their flag. Instead, they’re resigned to competing as Chinese Taipei and have to fly the Chinese Taipei flag.

It all stems from Taiwan’s politically contentious status.

Taiwanese athletes had previously competed in the Olympics as the Republic of China between 1956 and 1972. This name is not to be confused with the People’s Republic of China, which controls Mainland China and has its capital in Beijing.

During this time, Beijing had boycotted the games, arguing that Taiwan rightfully belongs to the People’s Republic of China and that there should only be one country known as China in the world. This is known as the One China Policy.

But in 1976, Taiwan pulled out of the Montreal Summer Olympics in protest after then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s government informed them that they weren’t allowed to compete as the Republic of China, given that Canada only recognized the Beijing as the sole representative of China.

After negotiations between Beijing and the International Olympic Committee in 1979, Beijing agreed to end their boycott of the games, so long as Taiwanese athletes competed as Chinese Taipei, named after Taiwan’s capital city. This agreement became known as the Nagoya Resolution.

The name Chinese Taipei was designed to be deliberately ambiguous. For Beijing, the name implies that Taiwan belongs to China. But the Taiwanese can interpret the name as highlighting the fact that Taiwan is culturally Chinese.

Beijing participated in its first Olympics in 1980 at the Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., but Taiwan initially refused to accept the resolution and missed out on the games.

In 1981, Taiwan accepted the terms and participated in its first Olympics under the name Chinese Taipei at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

The Nagoya Resolution​ also prohibits the Republic of China flag from being flown at the games. Instead, a new flag known as the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag was created for Taiwanese athletes. It features the Republic of China emblem along with the Olympic rings against a white background, surrounded by a flower shape.

When a Taiwanese athlete wins a gold medal, the Olympics can’t even play the Republic of China national anthem. Instead, the national flag anthem of the country plays.

While the name is unpopular in Taiwan, Taiwanese voters rejected changing their Olympic name to Taiwan in a referendum in 2018 over fears that Taiwan would be barred from participating from the games.​

With files from The Associated Press

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