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China hails youth games cancellation, Taiwan vows to prepare anyway

BEIJING/TAIPEI (Kyodo) -- China on Wednesday hailed a decision by the East Asian Olympic Committee to cancel Taiwan's right to host the first East Asian Youth Games, scheduled for 2019, local media reported, while Taiwan vowed to continue with preparations for the games nevertheless.

An Fengshan, spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, said that Taiwan was to blame for the cancellation, claiming that the actions of "Taiwan independence" elements on the self-ruled island had led to the games receiving political interference, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

In 2014, the EAOC granted the city of Taichung the right to host the games to support the promotion of the Olympics and development of sports in Taiwan.

However, on Tuesday, the EAOC revoked Taichung's right to host the games due to "political factors."

Taiwan's Executive Yuan, or Cabinet, later Tuesday accused China of political interference that resulted in the revocation.

"China has hurt the development of sports for political gain, employing rough tactics to sabotage the hosting of an international sporting event. These actions show that China is not a civilized nation but a troublemaker in the global community," it said.

On Wednesday, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen stated that Taiwan will nevertheless proceed with preparations for the games, such as building facilities.

Speaking at a gathering of her Democratic Progressive Party, Tsai slammed the "wrong decision" of the EAOC made under Chinese pressure, saying it affects not just Taiwanese players but more than 2,000 young athletes from nine countries and regions who have been "working hard all the time, just to fight for honor and shine on the field."

"Many people have only one chance in their lives. Their rights should not be deprived. Their sweat should not be vain," she said, while promising to seek justice for them.

Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung similarly said Wednesday that construction of sporting facilities and training of athletes will continue, according to the island's Central News Agency.

He was quoted as saying the city government is trying all possible channels to appeal the EAOC's decision, such as evaluating the feasibility of lodging an application for arbitration with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Taichung has spent more than three years preparing for the games and more than NT$670 million (US$21.87 million) for that purpose.

If the event cannot be staged, the city might consider holding its own games, Lin said.

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