Could China stop Taiwan from coming to the Olympic Games?
Actually, this was a trick question. Chinese leaders strongly desire for
Global politics usually don’t change as quickly as we would like, but they do change. One year ago I was one of many people who thought that the biggest political threat to the Beijing Olympic Games was the movement toward independence in
The story of
The PRC’s readmission into the IOC was achieved in 1979 when the general membership approved the Nagoya Resolution, known as the “Olympic formula.” The resolution read as follows:
“The Resolution of the Executive Board is:
The People’s Republic of
Name: Chinese Olympic Committee
NOC anthem, flag and emblem: Flag and anthem of the People’s Republic of
Constitution: In order.
Committee based in
NOC anthem, flag and emblem: Other than those used at present and which must be approved by the Executive Board of the I.O.C..
Constitution: To be amended in conformity with I.O.C. Rules by 1st January 1980”
(Minutes of the Executive Board meeting, Nagoya, Japan, 23-25 October 1979, p. 103).
Note that admission to the IOC hinged upon approval of only five items – name, flag, anthem, emblem, and constitution. Officially, the identity of a national Olympic committee (NOC) is reduced to these and only these five elements. As a result of the Olympic formula neither the phrase “Republic of China,” nor its associated flag, anthem and emblem may be used in venues conducting IOC-approved activities. Mainland Chinese have been known to object to the presence of Taiwanese symbols or pro-independence ideas at venues like the International Olympic Academy in
The Nagoya Resolution was accomplished under a version of the Olympic Charter that stated that the words “country” or “nation” in the charter could also apply to a “geographical area, district or territory.” However, in response to the multitude of states created by the dissolution of the
To make things more complicated, by the PRC’s logic
On our side, we were accustomed to translating “Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee” as Zhongguo Taibei Aoweihui （中国台北奥委会）, which was logical, but
Apparently they saw the one-character difference between Zhongguo Taibei Aoweihui and Zhonghua Taibei Aoweihui as an important question of principle. Actually, their unspoken reason was that “if you are the Zhongguo Olympic Committee then we simply will not be called the Zhongguo Taipei Olympic Committee so that we won’t be roped in and turned into a local organ of the Zhongguo Olympic Committee, and so we insist on being called the Zhonghua Taipei Olympic Committee.”
We discussed the matter among ourselves and concluded that this one character did not involve the question of the principle of the “two Chinas” or “one
The sensitivity of the words used to describe
Mr. He had been greatly frustrated by the language barrier in trying to make then-President Juan Antonio Samaranch and other IOC members understand the argument about the one-character difference between Zhongguo and Zhonghua. He asked me many times whether I thought that section of my translation would make the problem comprehensible to non-Chinese speakers. The reader may judge for her/himself from the excerpts above. Since a fair number of IOC members have now read the translation, perhaps they finally understand the extreme importance of names in Chinese culture, which traces roots back to Confucius’s “rectification of names.” In
During the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, in accordance with the Nagoya Resolution,
BOCOG is anticipating attempts to display ROC symbols in Olympic venues. In Atlanta in 1996, at the finals in women’s table tennis between China’s Deng Yaping and Chinese Taipei’s Chen Jing (who had won the gold medal in 1988 representing China), a Taiwanese student spectator unfurled the flag of the Republic of China and was ejected by Atlanta police, while another Taiwanese student (who was also an Olympic volunteer) was arrested for assaulting the officer when he tried to protect the first student, and spent several hours in jail. This was possible under American law because the back of the admission ticket contained fine print prohibiting, among other things “flags other than those of participating countries,” and giving the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games the authority to “eject any Spectator who fails to comply with these rules.” The back of the
This background returns me to the question of whether
Actually, the legal right to determine the invited countries does not rest with the host city. According to the current Olympic Charter, the IOC approves the list of NOCs that will be invited to the Olympic Games. The host city contract requires compliance with the charter. Ergo, the host city cannot alter the IOC’s invitation list. (By the way, the charter now gives the IOC the right to punish NOCs that accept the invitation and then withdraw – i.e., boycott.)
Those familiar with Olympic history will recall that for the 1976 Montreal Olympics,
“[…] We do not discriminate on the basis of sex, race or, indeed, national origin. All we are saying, and it seems to me this is a policy that would have the support of any member of this House regardless of his party, provided he believes in a one
In today's litigious environment, a breach of the host city contract might result in a lawsuit. But these days the IOC has the Nagoya Resolution in place. In sum, the lay of the land is quite different now and it's doubtful that
But it doesn’t want to. Since at least the 1970s, it has been the PRC's policy to invite
Apparently the first such invitation was issued to
In sum, after 35 years of a Taiwan presence in Chinese opening ceremonies, for most mainland Chinese people it would be unthinkable that Taiwan, in their minds an inalienable part of China, would not march into the stadium during the parade of athletes in the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.