Chinese athletes stage boycott as World Games close

Sunday, July 26, 2009

TAIPEI - The World Games closed in Kaohsiung Sunday with China boycotting the ceremony as expected.

Just as they boycotted the opening ceremony to avoid seeing President Ma Ying-jeou open the games, the 59 Chinese athletes stayed away from the closing ceremony held at the Main Stadium in Kaohsiung, south Taiwan.

Split since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, China claims Taiwan is its breakaway province and does not want Ma to appear at international events.

But in view of eased tension, the two sides seem to have reached a consensus to allow Ma to open the games while Chinese players stayed away.

China’s boycott did not affect the festival atmosphere of the closing ceremony which featured songs, dances, firework and the releasing of 200 paper lanterns into the night sky.

Ron Froelich, president of the International World Games Association, thanked Kaohsiung for hosting the 11-day games and praised the players for their sportsmanship.

“Before I hand over the flag to Cali, Columbia, host of the 2013 World Games, I want to make a solemn declaration, that is: The 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung have been the best games ever,” he said.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu said that various countries’ national flags flying at the stadium shows that Taiwan is a country of freedom and democracy.

“We want to make friends with the whole world while at the same time safeguard our dignity,” she said. “I urge Taiwanese to unite and fight for Taiwan’s success.”

At the entrance to the stadium, some Taiwanese held up placards declaring “Taiwan is Taiwan, China is China,” “Taiwan is an Independent Country.”

The World Games, held every four years, feature 30 sports that are not included in the Olympic Games plus several invitational sports. They include martial arts, artistic roller skating,

life-saving, body building, billiards and tug-of-war.

Some 4,800 athletes from 105 countries and regions took part in the World Games in Kaohsiung which began on July 16.

Russia was the most successful country with 47 medals (including 18 gold), followed by Italy’s 41 (17), China’s 29 (14), the United States’ 26 (13), Ukraine’s 33 (11), France’s 38 (10), Taiwan’s 24 (8) and Germany’s 22 (6).

Filed under: Olympic Games

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