Taiwanese IOC member assures Tokyo over vote


Staff Writer

Relations between Japan, China and Taiwan have spiraled out of control over the past week, but a longtime Taiwanese International Olympic Committee member is not using that as a pretext for his vote for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

He has, however, admitted that Japan’s island disputes could negatively impact Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Games, which was the premise of a hard-hitting analysis by this newspaper last week that made a major splash in Olympic circles spanning the globe.

Widespread protests, vandalism, damaged businesses, flag-burning, anger and anti-Japanese rhetoric heated up in both neighboring nations over the past several days after Japan announced it had nationalized three of the five uninhabited Senkaku Islands, a plan fervently opposed by China and Taiwan, both of which claim territorial rights to the islands.

This came after Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara aggressively pushed for the purchase in recent months, but IOC executive board member Wu Ching-kuo insists he will keep an open mind about the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid, The Japan Times has learned.

In an email, a copy of which this newspaper obtained on Wednesday, Wu declared he won’t get involved in a tit-for-tat with Ishihara, choosing instead to address the matter diplomatically to Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda — an IOC member — and also to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Bid Committee CEO and JOC Vice President Masato Mizuno.In his email to Takeda and Mizuno last week, Wu wrote, “I have read the news article in The Japan Times on Gov. Ishihara’s comments on my position with regard to the Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic bid.”

The 66-year-old Wu reminded Takeda and Mizuno that their long-standing association as part of the global Olympic community — the Nanjing, China-born Wu has been an IOC member since 1988 — should be the foundation of their professional relationship rather than a stumbling block. He urged them to remember that.

“You have known me for quite a long time and from day one of my IOC membership, I have known exactly how the Olympic ideals and principles should be honored totally separately from any political issue,” Wu wrote. “Therefore, I would like to let you know that I am more than 100 percent neutral and will encourage you continuously to pursue your excellent preparations for the bid.

“Like all other IOC members, I would maintain a position to respect every effort and time dedicated by your bidding team and will make my final decision truly based on the values of your bid.”

When he was asked by Japan Times staff writer Mizuho Aoki if ongoing territorial disputes in the region could be a problematic factor for Japan in its bid to host the 2020 Olympics, Ishihara verbally lashed out at Wu during a Sept. 7 news conference, exactly one year away from the IOC’s vote in Buenos Aires to determine which city will be awarded the 2020 Summer Games. Tokyo is competing against Istanbul and Madrid.

“He clearly is anti-Japanese,” Ishihara said of Wu. “He said, ‘Don’t talk about Senkaku at the London Olympics. (Otherwise) you are going to have China against yourselves.’ It’s not something for Taiwan to butt in. I think he certainly won’t be voting (for Japan). I think it’s ironic such a person is the delegate of Taiwan.”

Despite The Japan Times’ repeated attempts to reach Wu for comment about Ishihara’s words, he declined to do so, said Sebastien Gillot, public relations and communication director for the International Amateur Boxing Association, of which Wu is the president. Wu was, however, cited on the Focus Taiwan News Channel website as saying that Japan’s territorial disputes may harm the Tokyo 2020 bid. In a paraphrased statement, Wu said Tuesday that Japan’s Senkaku Islands purchase, from a private Japanese owner, is the antithesis of the Olympic spirit of peace.

The Senkaku Islands are called Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan.

There are 109 IOC members, 32 honorary members and one honor member, and the awarding of Olympic bids has come down to a handful of votes on several occasions.