A controversy over flight arrangements for Taiwanese athletes to the Tokyo Olympics continued yesterday, with Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) calling for reform of the sports governing bodies, which she said is filled with officials who enjoy the power and perks, but do not have the interests of the athletes in mind.
“When our athletes return home [from the Olympics], we must immediately start work on sports reform. The sports governing bodies are supposed to provide the best resources and logistic support for athletes,” she said. “Athletes should be treated with respect, but instead, these sports officials have put themselves above them.”
Kao was referring to the flight arrangements for Taiwan’s Tokyo Olympics delegation after badminton star Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) posted a photograph of herself on Instagram, sitting in the economy class section of a China Airlines flight to Tokyo and writing about how she misses sitting in EVA Airways’ business class.
Kao said the government had given the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) NT$150 million (US$5.34 million) as funding for the Taiwanese team’s participation in the Tokyo Olympics.
“Lawmakers believed it was the best way to give CTOC flexibility in using the funds and provide athletes with the needed support, freeing them of worries so they can go on to win medals,” she said. “However, it is regrettable that the CTOC has betrayed our trust ... as we again saw the athletes traveling in economy class, while sports officials sat in business class.”
The arrangement has drawn accusations of the government pandering to its own officials than taking care of the athletes.
Sports Administration Director-General Chang Shao-hsi (張少熙) on Tuesday offered to resign to take responsibility for the incident.
Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠), whose ministry oversees the sports agency, quoted Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) as saying that Chang should focus on taking care of the health and needs of the athletes at the Olympics.
The issue of Chang’s resignation offer should be dealt with after the Games, Pan quoted Su as saying.
Su yesterday again apologized for the flight arrangements and breaking a government promise to take better care of the nation’s athletes.
Su wrote on Facebook that all Taiwanese athletes and their coaches who have not yet flown to Tokyo for the Games are to fly business class, while government sports officials would be seated in economy.
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