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Unforgettable close to Taiwan's best-ever Deaflympics

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The 21st Summer Deaflympic Games in Taipei concluded last night in unprecedented fashion as organizers replaced the typical ceremonial fanfare with a big Taiwanese-style party that allowed the athletes to interact whilst enjoying delicious local cuisine.

Also a new sight to spectators around the world was the first-ever procession of the mainland China team in the opening or closing ceremony of any international sporting event hosted by Taiwan. The Chinese team held a banner to encourage the victims of Typhoon Morakot as it made its way around the stadium.

President Ma Ying-jeou, however, was not in attendance.

In authentic Taiwanese traditions, 350 round tables were set up for a big "ban de" -- a party or celebration with catered food, in Taiwanese.

Many local delicacies were served during last night's festivities -- a pallet of snacks including sakura hebi or cherry shrimp from Pingtung, peanuts from Yunlin and dried tofu from Dasi, followed by an appetizer platter of baby abalones and cured roe of haider or a kind of mullet.

Also on the menu were steamed petite dumplings; steamed fish in a black bean sauce, fried Taiwanese tempura, noodles with stewed beef soup, fou-taio-chiang or a hodgepodge of vegetables, meat and seafood, rice with meat sauce, and prawns with asparagus.

Popular Taiwanese treats like the pineapple cake, Taiwanese caramel candy, preserved fruit and locally-grown tea also made it to the tables. While milk tea with tapioca balls was served as the official drink, shaved ice with mango topping cooled the guests down, offering relief from the heat of a muggy evening.

The party was a feast for the eyes as well as for the stomach. As guests enjoyed their scrumptious dinner, renowned artists showcased their talents.

Hong-sheng Group presented traditional lion and dragon dances while Min Hwa Yuan Arts & Culture Group jumped and twirled in a Taiwanese opera piece that it had practiced for one year, especially for the Deaflympics.

After the Deaflympics torch and flag were passed on to the host city of the next Deaflympic Games, Athens, the 2013 host city then displayed Greek artistry with a dance ensemble.

The games in Taipei finished with three numbers from award-winning singer and dancer Aaron Kwok of Hong Kong.

The ban de party took the effort of more than 900 students, faculty and employees from Kai-Ping Culinary School, who had to train physically to ensure that they were able to cover the wide expanse of Taipei stadium in time to serve all the hot dishes hot and all the cold dishes un-melted.

This Deaflympics marks Taiwan's best-ever result in the games, with 11 golds, 11 silvers and 11 bronzes, finishing in fifth place in the overall medal standings after first-place Russian Federation, second-place Ukraine, and Korean and China in the third and fourth place respectively.

In the only contest yesterday, Ukraine defeated the Russian Federation in the men's soccer final 3-2.

An unwelcome intrusion to an otherwise perfect ending was the deportation of a Spanish athlete for alleged sexual harassment of a volunteer, yesterday afternoon.

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 Unforgettable close to Taiwan's best-ever Deaflympics 
Fireworks are seen in the closing ceremony of the 21st Summer Deaflympic Games in Taipei, yesterday. Instead of the traditional ceremonial rites, the organizers served a dinner and held a show, treating participants to a Taiwanese-style party and spectators to boxed dinners. (CNA)

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