Why Taiwan’s athletes will compete as ‘Chinese Taipei’ at the Beijing Winter Olympics

chinese taipei olympics
  • Four athletes from Taiwan will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, competing under the label of “Chinese Taipei” because of a historical precedent set in the 1980s.
  • After the 1980 Winter Olympics – the first time China appeared in the Olympics – the name was created in an unsteady compromise that maintains the status quo.
  • Athletes from Hong Kong also compete under their own distinct label in the Olympics as “Hong Kong, China.”

Four athletes from Taiwan will compete as “Chinese Taipei” in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, following a complicated historical precedent.

They will compete under the label with a distinctive flag bearing the symbol of the five Olympic rings. 

The name “Chinese Taipei” has been used by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1981, when Taiwan agreed to an IOC proposal creating a separate name. The decision followed a conflict at the 1980 Winter Olympics, when the People’s Republic of China competed in the Olympic games for the first time. Taiwanese athletes had represented Taiwan in 1972 and 1976 as the Republic of China, but in 1980 China successfully petitioned for athletes from Taiwan to no longer be allowed to compete under this name. 

For different reasons, athletes from Hong Kong compete under the label “Hong Kong, China” and have a separate flag, which also bears the Olympic rings. 

During medal ceremonies for both Taiwan and Hong Kong, a determined “flag raising anthem” plays rather than an official national anthem.

Medals won by athletes from Chinese Taipei and from “Hong Kong, China” are counted independently from China in official International Olympic Committee (IOC) medal tallies, but China has previously claimed medals from Hong Kong and Taiwan in their own medal counts because of their “one China, two systems” policy. 

Featured Image via Getty Images / Matthias Hangst

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