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August 24, 2017

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Second World University Baseball Championship kicks off

The Second World University Baseball Championship, a series of games played out by the best college players around the world, kicked off in the southern city of Tainan yesterday — the first time the games have been held in Asia.

"Tainan has devoted much resources and efforts to the tournament," said President Chen Shui-bian, who spoke at the opening ceremony. "The outstanding preparation for this championship sets a new standard for the sport of baseball in Taiwan. It is an honor that is shared by all the people of Tainan."

The championship this year has seven participating teams — the U.S., South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Czech Republic and Chinese Taipei. The series will lasts till August 1.

Tainan mayor Hsu Tien-tsair has been credited with making possible the holding of the games at the Tainan City Baseball Stadium. He went to South Korea in 2002 to pitch for Tainan, and the International University Sports Federation chose the city despite strong objections from mainland China.

Another venue where the games are held is the Chengching Lake Baseball Stadium in Kaohsiung County, also in southern Taiwan.

President Chen said Tainan's holding of the games will increase Taiwan's visibility in the world and help raise the island's baseball environment. "This presents a wonderful opportunity for Taiwan to step up to the world stage, as well as highlighting the importance of fostering diplomacy through exchanges among cities," he said.

Describing baseball as Taiwan's "national sport," Chen reminisced what it was like to stay up all night and watch the famed Red Leaf little league team play: "Baseball, along with late night TV broadcasts, instant noodles and the sound of firecrackers, has become the collective memory of those over forty years of age in Taiwan. Its allure lies in its power to unite the spirits of tens and thousands of baseball fans."

Chen also gave a few words of encouragement to the Chinese Taipei team to be playing in the Summer Olympics, referring to team members Tsao Jin-huei and Cheng Jing-fend as Taiwan's "secret weapons." "This is our dream team and the hope of Taiwan's baseball. Let's join together to cheer them on until the final victory comes," he said.

Tainan mayor Hsu joined several government officials in starting off the much-awaited game between Chinese Taipei and the U.S. amidst cheering crowds. Their opening pitches however did not translate into a win by Chinese Taipei as Taiwan lost to the U.S. 1-2.

In earlier games held yesterday, Japan beat Mexico 6-0, while Korea beat Canada 12-0.

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