Taipei, Nov. 23 (CNA) Proponents of a referendum on whether Taiwan should apply to compete in international sporting events under the name “Taiwan” accused the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) on Thursday of making “false and misleading” statements to sabotage a vote in favor of the proposal.
Yang Jong-her (楊忠和), former head of the defunct Sports Affairs Council under the Executive Yuan, and other supporters of the name change referendum staged a protest outside the CTOC and stuck a poster on the building that said the committee represented “Taipei, China.”
The council has now been replaced by the Sports Administration under the Ministry of Education.
“With the CTOC using every possible means to suppress the possibility of a name change for the nation, who needs China,” the protesters shouted.
The referendum asks whether Taiwan should apply to participate in international sporting events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, using the name “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei.” It will be held on Nov. 24, along with nine others, in conjunction with the local government elections.
On Nov. 16, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sent a letter to the CTOC, saying that its Executive Board had decided not to approve any change to the name of the CTOC.
Any attempts to exercise undue pressure on the CTOC to breach the Lausanne agreement, which is about the nomenclature used to represent Taiwan, or to act against the IOC Executive Board’s decision would be seen as “external interference,” which might lead to protective measures under the terms of the Olympic Charter, the IOC said.
The measure cited by the IOC is rule 27.9 in the charter, which allows the suspension or withdrawal of recognition of a national Olympic committee if it is prevented by some action from exercising its will.
In the letter, the third sent by the IOC on the Taiwan issue since May, it reiterated that it does not interfere in local referendum procedures and fully respects freedom of expression.
On Thursday, the protesters said the IOC letter was instigated by CTOC Chairman Lin Hong-dow (林鴻道), one of the two people to whom it was addressed.
“We’re here to demand an explanation from Lin,” Yang said. “Has the CTOC filed a complaint with the IOC about the referendum because it doesn’t want to accept the results of the referendum if it passes? If not, why did the IOC send that letter?”
George Chang (張燦鍙), a proponent of the referendum proposal, said Taiwan has the right to apply for a name change, as does every IOC member, under the Olympic Charter.
“Currently the IOC has no power to reject the possibility of Taiwan seeking to change its name in the IOC because Taiwan has not yet submitted such a proposal,” he said. “The IOC’s letter is simply an expression of its position, not a final verdict.”
Meanwhile, another protester Liu Chin-wen (劉敬文) told reporters that he believed the group of Taiwanese Olympians who said Wednesday that Taiwan would risk losing its Olympic membership if the referendum passes were under pressure from the CTOC to speak out against the referendum.
He said CTOC executives, including Lin, have been misleading the public by saying that if the referendum passes, Taiwanese athletes will be deprived of the right to compete in international sporting events.
If the CTOC’s membership in the IOC is suspended or withdrawn as a result of the referendum, the IOC will allow Taiwanese athletes to compete internationally as Independent Olympic Athletes, said Liu, spokesman for Team Taiwan Campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, an alliance that initiated the referendum.
In the past athletes have participated at the Olympic Games independent of their countries for various reasons, including when those countries have been banned from international competition, Liu said without further elaborating.