Why is Taiwan not called Taiwan at the Olympics?
Taiwan's star weightlifter Kuo Hsing-chun won gold at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, but when she climbed the podium to receive her medal, there was no national flag or national anthem to greet her.
Taiwan can't even call itself "Taiwan" at the Games. Instead, it must be titled "Chinese Taipei," which is a source of significant frustration for many Taiwanese.
What's in a name
Taiwan has received many names over the years due to its special international status at the Olympics.
Although Taiwan is a self-governing democracy of 23 million people with its own borders, currency and government, Taiwan's status remains controversial.
After the end of the Chinese Civil War of 1949, the defeated nationalists and their government of the Republic of China fled to Taiwan.
Mao's victorious communist forces established the People's Republic of China on the mainland.
Beijing's communist leadership has never controlled Taiwan. But it still regards the island as part of "one China" and has vowed to occupy it by force one day if necessary.
It seeks to keep Taipei isolated on the world stage and eschews any use of the word Taiwan.
Why Chinese Taipei?
Taipei agreed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) under this name as early as 1981.
It was a compromise that would allow Taiwan to compete in sports without presenting itself as a sovereign nation.
Instead of the red and blue flag of Taiwan, Taiwanese athletes have to compete under the "plum blossom banner", a white flag that bears the Olympic rings.
When the athletes are on the podium, a traditional flag song is played - not Taiwan's national anthem.
Critics say the name is humiliating, indicating that other controversial or unrecognized locations like Palestine are allowed to use their own name and flag in the Olympics.
What were the previous names?
In 1952, both Taiwan and China were invited to the Olympic Games. Both governments claimed to represent China, but Taiwan was eliminated in the end.
Four years later, Taiwan entered the Olympic Games as "Formosa-China" - Formosa (beautiful) was the name that Portuguese sailors gave Taiwan in the 16th century.
Beijing boycotted these games and resigned from the International Olympic Committee two years later.
At the 1960 Games, Taiwan appeared under the name Taiwan at the behest of the IOC.
But Taiwan's authoritarian government at the time resisted the name - it wanted to be the Republic of China.
Taiwan participated in two more Olympic Games than Taiwan in the 1960s, including the 1964 Tokyo Games.
In the 1970s, more countries began to diplomatically recognize Beijing vis-à-vis Taiwan.
In 1972, Taiwan, the Republic of China, took part in the Olympic Games for the last time.
Taiwan boycotted the 1976 Olympics after host country Canada demanded that it compete as Taiwan instead of the ROC.
It was suspended in 1979 after the IOC recognized Beijing as the representative body of China.
And it wasn't approved until two years later after it agreed to compete as Chinese Taipei, as it's been called since then.
Why is Taiwan popular again?
It is ironic that there are now increasing calls for Taiwan to use the name Taiwan because previous governments disliked the name in the past.
But a lot has changed in Taiwan since the 1970s.
Since the 1990s, Taiwan has grown from a dictatorship to one of the most progressive democracies in Asia.
A distinct Taiwanese identity has developed particularly among young people.
A referendum on whether to change "Chinese Taipei" was held in 2018, sparking warnings from both the IOC and Beijing.
But the referendum was lost, also because top athletes protested against the vote because they feared they would be excluded from major sporting events.
Current President Tsai Ing-wen - who won a landslide re-election last year - regards Taiwan as a de facto sovereign nation and has urged more use of the name.
She posted a thank you to Japan online after a newscaster announced Chinese Taipei as Taiwan during the opening ceremony.
In response, China's state media newspaper Global Times condemned Japan for "dirty political tricks".
aw-jta / jfx
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