Taiwan’s 15-member athletic delegation, which includes athletes and coaches, will not take part in the opening or closing ceremonies of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, its Sports Ministry said on Friday.
“According to the event’s pandemic prevention and entry policy, flights have been adjusted and delayed, and not all could arrive in Beijing by the opening ceremony on Feb. 4,” the ministry said in a statement.
Only four Taiwanese athletes will compete in the Beijing Winter Olympics next month, including Huang Yu-ting in the women’s 500m, 1000m, and 1500m races, Lin Si Rong in the luge women’s single, Ho Ping-jui and Lee Wen-yi in the men’s and women’s slalom.
They will be traveling to the Games separately from the United States, Switzerland, and Taiwan, according to the Sports Ministry.
“Based on the protection of the athletes, high-standard pandemic prevention and control measures have been adopted to prevent any risk of infection; to accumulate combat strength, our delegation will not participate in the opening ceremony,” it stated.
The ministry further stated that because Taiwan’s team is small, athletes and team officials will return home after completing their events, skipping the closing ceremony as well.
Taiwan has also decided not to send any government officials to the Games, citing the limited number of athletes competing.
A senior Taiwan official claimed that Taiwan refused to send any delegation due to concern that Beijing could “downgrade” Taiwan’s status by putting its athletes alongside those from the Chinese “special administrative region” of Hong Kong at the opening ceremony.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Wednesday referred to Taiwan’s team as “China, Taipei,” rather than the official designation “Chinese Taipei,” prompting Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council to rebuke China for using the wrong name.
Taiwan competes in most sporting events, including the Olympics, under the name “Chinese Taipei” at the request of Beijing, which regards democratically-ruled Taiwan as part of “one China” and inviolable Chinese territory.
Tensions between the self-ruled island Taiwan and the regime in Beijing have been escalating, with the most recent Chinese incursion involving 39 aircraft and a bomber. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to conquer the island by force if necessary.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council has also called on Beijing not to tamper with the tournament through “political factors.”
“We call on this year’s organizers to abide by the ‘Olympic Charter’ and not use political factors to interfere with the competition and suppress and belittle our side. Relevant government units will also be prepared to respond to various emergencies,” it stated, without elaborating.
Reuters contributed to this report.