On Aug. 19, the 29th Summer Universiade Games held its opening ceremony in Taipei Stadium. This was the first time that the event was hosted in Taiwan, providing an opportunity for Taiwan to showcase its rich culture to the international community.
The opening ceremony featured performances that presented the story of Taiwan. The first program, “Vibrant Island,” depicted the various cultures and tribes of Taiwan, while the second program, “Hybrid Taipei,” showcased Taipei’s urban landscape. Both programs featured musical performances like the “Song of Life,” a originally crafted song, to highlight the connection between Taiwanese identity and nature.
The games, including collegiate athletes from 119 countries, marked one of the biggest sporting events in Taiwan’s history. Already, Taiwan has faced issues concerning its use of the name “Chinese Taipei” instead of “Taiwan.” Problems started even before the start of the games when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) refused to send teams representing the country to the games. Although the refusal to send teams may not be in direct protest to Taiwan hosting the games, Mayor Ko Wen-je of Taipei was quoted saying in the United Daily News that the reason China did not wish to attend was because they feared that the Taiwanese audience may grow “too passionate.”
However, going into the event, Taiwan struck gold. Various sports teams won a total of 26 gold medals, 34 silver medals, and 30 bronze medals following extraordinary performances by the nation’s badminton, table tennis and tennis teams on the final day of competition in most sports. Taiwan’s Cheng Chao-tsun not only won the gold medal, but also broke the Asian javelin record set by China’s Zhao Qinggang at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Many of the teams have made positive statements about the unprecedented number of wins Taiwan has recieved. “We have proved to everyone at the Universiade that Taiwan is very strong in this event, and we want to improved government policies and public support to help develop cue sports,” billiards coach Lin Shang-yi said to the Taipei Times. “Today we have shown that Taiwanese pool players have the capability and determination to give their best when thrust into the limelight, and can prove that we are among the best in the world.”
Header photo: Shereen Lee / The Blue & Gold