Taiwanese athletes waved their national flag at the opening procession of the Paris Gay Games on Saturday despite accusations that China pressured event organisers to ban its display.
Dozens of Taiwanese national flags, big and small, were spotted during the opening procession at Paris’s Jean Bouin stadium on Saturday. Some athletes also held a banner that credited Taiwan as “the first Asian country to legalise equal marriage.”
The island’s constitutional court ruled last year that the government had two years to legalise same-sex marriage.
In July, the Federation of Gay Games notified the Taiwan Gay Sports and Gay Development Movement Association (TGSGDMA) that the French government had “expressed concerns” over the public display of the Taiwanese flag.
TGSGDMA President Yang Chih-chun said the “logical conclusion” was that the Chinese government had complained to the French government over the use of flags. China considers Taiwan as part of its territory, and Taiwan regularly competes as “Chinese Taipei” at international sporting events.
The Federation of Gay Games originally used the name “Taiwan” on its website, but in late July amended it to “Taipei.”
Athletes from France, San Francisco and the Philippines were among those who also waved Taiwan’s national flag at Saturday’s opening procession.
Yang told Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency on Sunday that members of the French Baseball and Softball Federation asked them for “a few dozen” Taiwanese flags.
“They felt that using ‘Taipei’ was not sufficiently respectful of Taiwan. They wanted to do something to help, and of course we are very grateful,” Yang said.
The same report also cited Taiwanese team members who said they received support from Australian and Canadian athletes.
Neither the Federation of Gay Games nor the French government has publicly commented on the display of the Taiwanese flag.
The 10th Gay Games in Paris saw 650 teams from 91 countries. Events continue until August 12.
Taiwan – officially known as the Republic of China – has been self-ruled since its split from the mainland after the 1949 civil war. Currently, it maintains diplomatic ties with only 17 of 163 United Nations countries.