Taipei appears to have shrugged off an early disruption to hold a world-class major international sporting event.

The World University Games, also known as the Summer Universiade, is the largest of its kind to be held in Taiwan. The 12-day event closes on Aug. 31.

With the arrival of tens of thousands of athletes, officials and supporters to the Taiwan capital and hundreds of international journalists in tow, it is seen as a rare chance for the country to gain positive attention on the international stage.

However, the event got off to a shaky start when, on Aug. 19, a group protesting the government’s planned reforms to pension payments blocked a key entrance to the main stadium during the opening ceremony. Their actions, which included a smoke bomb being let off, led to a number of national delegations unable to enter the stadium as scheduled and instead represented by a single flag bearer.

The protesters have been largely dismissed across Taiwan. Their cause is not widely supported. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) sparked a minor controversy online after referring to the protesters as “bastards.” The comment drew about half a million “likes” on Facebook. Ko, who is known for his off-the-cuff remarks, has since said he will restrain himself from such impulsive comments in future.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s athletes, competing under the name Chinese Taipei, have performed beyond expectations at the Universiade. According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, as of Sunday evening, Taiwan was placed third on the medal table – with 17 gold, 26 silver and 20 bronze – behind only Japan and South Korea.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has been active on social media promoting the event and celebrating Taiwan’s success.

Read more:
Universiade Countdown Begins: Will Taiwan Be Ready for Its Biggest Sporting Event Ever?
Security Beefed-Up as Taiwan’s Biggest-Ever Event is Politicized

Editor: Olivia Yang