‘Gold medal plans’ budget unfrozen, says official


TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Legislative Yuan agreed yesterday to unfreeze a budget for the Cabinet-level Sports Affairs Council (SAC) to fund a plan to help the country’s athletes win gold medals in the 2008 Olympic Games.

Members of the Legislative Yuan’s Education and Culture Committee agreed at a meeting to unfreeze half of a NT$343.70 million (US$11.23 million) budget for training national team athletes for 2008.

The NT$171.85 million budget has been frozen since last year by lawmakers who claimed that the SAC had done a poor job of cultivating top-notch athletes.

Legislators of the committee said that they hope the unfreezing of the budget will help facilitate training of the national team’s athletes so that they could perform better in the 2008 Olympic Games slated to open in Beijing on Aug. 8.

The sports council predicted earlier this year that Taiwan could win seven gold and many other medals at the Games and that Taiwan’s athletes were seen as having the best chances of winning gold in the taekwondo, weightlifting, archery and tennis competitions.

The SAC officials, however, said recently that among all Taiwan national team athletes, only Chu Mu-yen, who won a gold medal in the taekwondo competition at the last Olympic Games held in Athens in 2004, “has (at least) a 70 percent chance of winning a gold medal this year.”

Taiwanese athletes won two gold medals, both in taekwondo competitions, as well as two silver medals and one bronze medal at the Athens Olympic Games, taking the 31st spot in the overall medal standings that year.

According to the SAC, 37 male and 24 female Taiwanese athletes have qualified to compete in nine events at the Beijing Olympics.