Interference in East Asia Youth Games boosts referendum petition

A proposed referendum initiated by civic organizations to have the national team compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics under the name "Taiwan".

Taipei, July 29 (CNA)-Advocates championing for Taiwan to participate in all international sporting events and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games under the name “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei” held a rally Sunday night in downtown Taipei to gather signatures.

The signature drive aimed at holding a referendum on the name change held together with local elections on November 24 was used by China as a pretext to rescind Taichung City’s right to host the 2019 East Asia Youth Games at a meeting of the East Asian Olympic Committee (EAOC) in Beijing on July 24.

“I feel a growing aversion among youngsters in Taiwan toward China because of the revocation of Taichung’s right to host the games,” Hsu Chieh, a 24-year-old graduate student told CNA as she signed the petition.

The EAOC’s decision has spurred more people to support the referendum, Yang Tzu-fu, an organizer of “Team Taiwan Campaign for 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” an alliance of several
local groups that initiated the petition, said. “There has been about a twofold increase in the number of people signing the petition recently,” said Yang, who has collected signatures since the petition entered the second public endorsement phase in April.

Yang said the alliance has so far collected about 90,000 signatures, still well shy of the threshold of 280,000 for the petition to be considered valid. The deadline for the alliance  to turn over the signatures needed is August 31.

China’s interference in the games was also why Tsao Li-yun, 28, decided to add her name to the petition. “I realized what China can do to repress Taiwan was way over the top, which made me want to do something.” Chang Wei-wei, 29, said she of course would like to see Taiwanese athletes compete on the world stage under the name “Taiwan” but she was also not strongly opposed to the use of “Chinese Taipei.”

Had China not kept pushing for the name Taiwan to be changed by international airlines or things like that, Chang said. “I wouldn’t be so angry.”

“It’s not that we have to be designated ‘Taiwan,’ but I don’t want ‘Taiwan, China.’ That’s why I supported the referendum to counter Chinese pressure,” she said.