Taiwan and the Olympics: flags and names

One of the joys of watching the Olympics is seeing the flags from different nations during the opening ceremony. Unfortunately, this also comes with the knowledge that Taiwan would be using the alternate flag and the alternate name just to be included.

That is why I was really shocked when I checked out the BBC’s Olympic website on July 27, 2012 and found this:

The Taiwanese flag was used instead of the Olympic Chinese Taipei flag. I was a bit confused by this. In the end, I decided that the BBC must be using the flags from the country profiles.

The actual flag that Taiwan uses for the Olympics is reflected on the Olympics website.

However, the official site also reflects two names: Taipei and Chinese Taipei. I don’t think “Taipei” was ever an official Olympic name, but it may be a reflection as the IOC code is TPE. It probably also helps to keep any issues of having it listed to close to China. This is why “Chinese Taipei” is placed with other countries with names starting with the letter “T” rather than “C.” This is with the exception of the Beijing Olympics, where teams marched based on the number of strokes of the first character in the country name. Chinese Taipei is 中華台北. China (中國) marched last as the host country.

A few days later, I checked on the BBC’s Olympics website again. Sure enough, by August 6, 2012, the Chinese Taipei flag replaced the Taiwan flag. It’s still right next to China, though.


One thought on “Taiwan and the Olympics: flags and names

  1. This always made me sad. Imagine going all the way to the Olympics, winning a gold medal, and when you step on stage it’s someone else’s flag, someone else’s name, and someone else’s national anthem… I can’t even imagine what it’s like for Taiwanese athletes.

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