The Olympics have finally started, and Taiwan is off to an awesome start – winning 6 medals early to climb to twelfth in the overall medal tally. Could this great start have been predicted, based on the terrible reputation that many sports associations in Taiwan have had for many years? The latest controversy is around the discrepancy in treatment of national athletes compared with the more preferential services provided to members of their respective sports associations, including coaches, trainers and other support staff. While flying economy class from Taipei to Tokyo might not be considered arduous, as the writer of this article helpfully points out, support staff flying business class while the athletes are in cattle class is only the latest instance where Taiwanese athletes – surely the main focus of the whole enterprise – are treated as second-class citizens.
What the writer fails to acknowledge in this article is that this is not only a one-off mistake, oversight or COVID-specific arrangement, although that is what is being implied. The reality is that corruption and mistreatment of athletes by sports associations have plagued Taiwanese sport for decades. What other examples can you think of from Taiwanese sport that demonstrate the rot in the system? From functionaries drawing massively inflated and undeserved salaries for very little work thus depriving athletes of a reasonable income, to sportspersons being treated disrespectfully, it really is a testament to the grit and talent of Taiwan’s athletes that they have been able to achieve so much, in spite of their broken sports associations. Or does Taiwan’s impressive medal count so far demonstrate that such a system is actually successful?