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September 21, 2017

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Gov't needs to better promote our Olympic Games athletes

Just as local media were focusing all their attention on covering the recent lucrative deal signed by Jeremy Lin with the Houston Rockets, the first group of Taiwan's Olympic athletes departed Wednesday for London, largely unnoticed.

A day later, President Ma Ying-jeou visited the national training center in Kaohsiung, where top-level Taiwanese athletes have been in intensive training for the Olympics, to present a national flag to the nation's delegation to boost team morale ahead of the games.

The story, however, which has significant meaning to Taiwan's sports community, again received very little coverage as most local news agencies chose to put Lin on the front page, relegating the nation's Olympic team to a small corner in the sports page.

The China Post is not blaming local media by pointing out this phenomenon, because it is obvious that the story of Jeremy Lin is far more newsworthy than the nation's Olympic squad just getting on a plane.

We are simply noting the sad reality that Taiwan's Olympic team has been largely overshadowed by Lin, an NBA player that has very little connection to the nation except the fact that both of his parents emigrated from Taiwan to the United States decades ago.

There are other reasons the local media might downplay news coverage for this year's Taiwanese national Olympic team. For one thing, the national squad, consisting of 19 men and 25 women, is one of the smallest delegations in the nation's Olympic history.

The smaller delegation is because baseball and softball, two medal-hopeful sport events for Taiwan, were scrapped from this year's competition. The removal of baseball, largely seen as the country's national pastime, could explain why the 2012 London Games has failed to attract interest from Taiwanese reporters and nationals alike.

The absence of star athletes from the squad could be another reason for the lack of interest, as only two or three athletes, including taekwondo medal-hopeful Yang Shu-chun and tennis player Rendy Lu, have enjoyed national fame.

Also, the vast distance between Taiwan and the UK makes it difficult for locals to visit London and rally behind the national squad, especially in comparison to the Beijing Games four years ago.

These are all understandable reasons for the lukewarm reception Taiwanese are showing to the upcoming London Games, however we want to note that it is exactly because of these factors that the government should have done a better job promoting these less well-known athletes and sports events to the public.

The London Olympics could have been a perfect opportunity for local sports officials to educate and raise awareness of sports other than baseball, which is already widely popular.

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