As the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London will open tomorrow at the Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park, we regrettably need to inform anyone who cares about another act of political involvement in sports. Taiwan will be participating under the name of Chinese Taipei 中華台北, which as you might or might not know, was a compromise we made to stay in the Games decades ago. The team from Taiwan is not allowed to display the ROC national flag, while the national anthem played when our athletes win gold medals is actually the Flag Anthem 國旗歌 (which technically should be played with the raising of the ROC flag).
Now, to celebrate the Olympics in London, the Regent Street Association put up 206 national colors on Lower Regent Street on July 21, 2012.
Yet likely due to the attention it has gotten from people of Taiwan around the world (I mean, the official flag of Taiwan doesn’t get displayed often, especially not publicly nor overseas), the flag disappeared three days after its appearance on July 24, 2012, leaving the conspicuous absence you see in the pictures above.
Of course, the reason for our flag’s disappearance was uncleared at the time, but most Taiwanese already guessed/knew exactly what was going on. We are far too familiar with this scenario: someone displays the flag of Taiwan, China (People’s Republic of China, not to be confused with ROC) gets angry/displeased and protests, and the government of where the flag is displayed gets involved in taking down or changing the flag to the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag. This has happened far too many times for anyone with any sense to figure out what was going on on Regent Street. This isn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last.
So now we have it: the PRC Embassy in London protested to the UK Foreign Office, which contacted the Regent Street Association (responsible for hanging up the flags) and suggested that they should follow the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games’ (LOCOG) example in displaying the “correct” flag for Taiwan.
Starting yesterday, the Chinese Taipei Olympic Flag flies in place of where the ROC flag used to fly for three days.
This could summarize how Taiwanese feel about the incident and Taiwan’s status in the international society:
Do people of Taiwan feel angry, shocked, and/or sad towards this incident and all other similar incidents? MOST DEFINITELY.
Is there anything the government of Taiwan could do about it? Not much.
Reports on the incident from other media:
AFP CNN Daily Herald Global Voices The Guardian The Guardian London 2012 Blog London Evening Standard Le Monde NBC Le Parisien The Southern Taipei Times Yahoo! Sports
While we are on the subject of flags, see if you can do better than LOCOG in identifying flags in this little quiz.