Taiwan Risking Its Right to Compete at 2020 Olympics With New Referendum

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The country of Taiwan has competed at international competitions under the name “Chinese Taipei” since 1981 as the result of political disputes between the island country and Beijing. Taiwanese campaigners submitted over 500,000 signatures in September, which was enough for a referendum to take place.

That referendum will happen on November 24 alongside local elections in Taiwan. The vote will determine if the island country can compete as “Taiwan” and not “Chinese Taipei” for the next Olympics and other events beyond.

But there could be consequences to this referendum.

China, which still claims sovereignty over self-ruling democratic Taiwan, is particularly sensitive to the island’s use of names, emblems and flags at international events. Taiwan returned to the Olympics in 1984 after boycotting the previous two Games under the name “Chinese Taipei” following the 1979 agreement between the IOC and China that allowed the island to compete, but not use its own name, flag or anthem.

Chinese Taipei currently uses the National Flag Anthem of the Republic of China.

A referendum is unlikely to unravel that binding commitment, known as the Nagoya Resolution, which Taiwan signed in 1981.
In a statement to CNN on Thursday, the IOC said that the 1979 agreement “remains unchanged and fully applicable.”

The IOC warned Taiwan it could lose its right to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if it tries to change its name.

Read the full report from CNN here.

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