Our Commitment to World Universiade Games Must Be Kept
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 26 2015
Executive Summary: The Taipei City Government will hold the the World Universiade games in 2017. But this has provoked prolonged controversy. In fact, the controversy has escalated. The entire event may now be subject to review and revision. But the World Universiade Games is part of the ROC's struggle to cultivate international goodwill and participate in international events. If the original plan involved government waste, it must of course be dealt with. But one must not fail to see the forest for the trees. As hosts, we cannot afford to discredit ourselves by reneging on our commitments.
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The Taipei City Government will hold the the World Universiade games in 2017. But this has provoked prolonged controversy. In fact, the controversy has escalated. The entire event may now be subject to review and revision. But the World Universiade Games is part of the ROC's struggle to cultivate international goodwill and participate in international events. If the original plan involved government waste, it must of course be dealt with. But one must not fail to see the forest for the trees. As hosts, we cannot afford to discredit ourselves by reneging on our commitments.
Recently Taipei Mayor Wen-Je Ko inspected the World Universiade Games athletes' village in Linkou. He publicly challenged the tangible benefits of spending 20 billion NT for the World Universiade Games. He even declared that "Had I been mayor, I would not have chosen to host the World Universiade Games." The Games Village restaurant will cost 380 million NT. It will be used for 12 days, then demolished. Mayor Ko threw a fit. He suggested that we emulate the 2013 World Universiade in Kazan, Russia, which rented facilities where possible. The Taipei City New Construction Department followed suit. It announced that it favored tents to house the athletes' village restaurant in order to cut costs.
Renting tents would definitely cost less than 380 million NT. But that is hardly the best choice. They should reconsider. Most World Universiade Games restaurants have been set up in tents. But the Spartan, unventilated spaces provoked widespread criticism. Taiwan has a subtropical climate. Summers are already hot as it is. In recent years, global warming and extreme weather conditions frequently mean 37 to 38 degrees Celsius high summer temperatures. Flimsy tents offer little protection from the sun. Prefab corrugated metal buildings are not much better. Air-conditioning must be installed and set on “high” all day.
Moreover, Taiwan often experiences summer afternoon thunderstorms. Typhoons are also likely. Tents as shelters against the rain and wind are totally inappropriate.
The World Universiade Games restaurant must be able to accommodate 3,500 people. In addition to the dining area, it must also accommodate kitchen facilities. Finding so many large tents would be a major challenge. But the most important issue is the climate. The Taipei City Government considered this before deciding to adopt steel framed buildings equipped with ventilation and lighting.
Taipei may have a new mayor. But it still has the same old climate. The summer of 2017 is expected to be a scorcher hit by typhoons. What if high winds overturn the tents?What if players crowded into prefab corrugated metal shelters get heat stroke? Can we allow this new mayor to cut corners without regard for the consequences? Is this not penny wise and pound foolish? Will this not lead to our international disgrace?
The problem of restaurants has not been solved. Yet the Taipei and New Taipei City Construction and Planning Departments are already bickering over the allocation of the athletes' villages once the games have concluded. This was followed by quarrels between the Taipei City Government and Far Glory over the Taipei Dome construction process. Wen-Je Ko is demanding a thorough investigation to determine whether Far Glory is guilty of fraud. He wants to avoid threats from Far Glory. Therefore he has demanded a review to determine whether the project should be canceled or moved elsewhere. This would be a massive change. If it were to comes to pass, the ROC's international reputation would be undermined even more severely.
Funding for the World Universiade Games comes from the taxpayers, from their hard-earned money. Corruption of course cannot be tolerated. Wasteful spending is also intolerable. This is something that both central and local governments must keep in mind. Hosting an international event requires reasonable expenses. Certain amenities and facilities are indispensable. Pinching pennies at the expense of international guests, would undermine our reputation for hospitality. That is no way to treat guests.
Let us return to the original reason for hosting the World Universiade Games. The ROC has long been at a disadvantage. It has been diplomatically isolated and unable to participate in international activities. It has been unable to conduct international exchanges or protect the rights and interests of its people. For the ROC, hosting a major international event such as this is a valuable opportunity. It provides the ROC with global media exposure. It establishes friendships through exchanges. It increases international goodwill and support for the ROC. It improves the ROC's reputation as a host for international activities. It enables young people on Taiwan to participate in international activities, and acquire a more global perspective.
Taipei beat out Brazil in its bid to host the 2017 World Universiade Games. The main reason was that it offered better venues and facilities. This event is considered a "Mini-Olympics." Approximately 12,000 competitors from 160 countries will participate. It is the largest international event ever held by the ROC. Its significance is enormous, It deserves unanimous support from the people as a whole. As the host, we must fulfill out commitments. We must see the event through. Participants must leave with fond memories. They must not leave with negative impressions because their quarters were too shabby, and their hospitality was inadequate. Even threatening to cancel the World Universiade Games is a no-no. Our guests would be disappointed. Our reputation as a host for international events would be damaged. Our chance at hosting future events would be jeopardized. The harm would far exceed any good.
The World Universiade Games controversy requires a more elevated perspective. It is beneficial to the nation's interests. Therefore is must not fall victim to political wrangling over the details. The World Universiade Games offer us a chance to shine. We must not shoot ourselves in the foot. Make this event a success. Everyone will share the glory.