TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Austrian broadcaster ORF (Osterreichischer Rundfunk) is yet another international news agency to “rectify” the name or flag of Taiwan in its Olympic coverage.
Despite attempts by China to use the Olympics to push its claim of ownership of Taiwan, Taiwanese living overseas have been heartened to observe that a number of international media outlets have changed Taiwan’s name from “Chinese Taipei” — the name the country’s athletes must compete under at Olympic and other global sporting events.
The latest example is Austria’s ORF, which users on social media platform Reddit discovered on Friday (Aug. 6) is listing the country on its online medal table as Taiwan, instead of Chinese Taipei, as dictated by the IOC. Unlike many other broadcasters, ORF has avoided controversy over Taiwan’s flag by dispensing with the display of the flags for any country.
Currently, Taiwan is ranked in 25th place for the medal tally with two gold, four silver, and six bronze, for a record total of 12, more than the past three Olympics combined. After a victory in men’s badminton on Saturday (July 31), Taiwan’s national flag anthem was played in front of Chinese athletes for the first time in Olympic history, with both sides having very different takes on the political significance.
Thus far, the only two international news sites reported to be displaying both the name Taiwan and the country’s flag are Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport and France’s L’Equipe. However, many other media outlets are deviating in one way or another from the official IOC canon.
Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti (РИА Новости) and Canada’s The Sports Network (TSN) are presenting Taiwan’s flag but using the name Chinese Taipei. Meanwhile, Japan’s NHK and The New York Times are showing the Olympic flag while calling the country Taiwan.
During its live broadcast of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games, South Korean TV channel Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) announced that “Taiwanese athletes” had entered the stadium, and an infographic on the screen displayed the Olympic flag accompanied by the name “Taiwan.” Likewise, an anchor for Japan’s NHK introduced the team as “Taiwan” during the opening ceremony, prompting Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokesperson Zhu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮) to criticize the move as an example of Taiwan “playing little tricks to seek independence.”
The Republic of China (ROC) first competed in the Olympics in 1932, but in 1975, the People’s Republic of China applied to participate in the games and insisted the ROC, which had relocated to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War in 1949, be decertified in the process.
After much controversy over whether the ROC could participate in the 1976 Montreal games, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau suggested that it compete as “Taiwan” as a compromise. The ROC government refused his terms at the time and boycotted the games.
Taiwan was not allowed back into the Olympics until the IOC had passed the Nagoya Resolution in 1979, obliging Taiwan to use the name “Chinese Taipei” but barring its national flag and anthem. Instead, all subsequent Taiwan Olympic teams have been forced to fly the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag and play a modified version of the national flag anthem at medals ceremonies.