Hosts India were among the nations which missed the opening ceremony at the 29th World University Games after the contingent was stuck amidst protest from senior citizens.
The opening ceremony was adversely affected by a protest by retired government employees against the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s new legislation to slash 40 per cent of veterans’ pensions across the board starting next year.
Although the veterans are not against the staging of the Games, they gathered outside the venue just before the start of the opening ceremony, to grab eyeballs of the large media
Their efforts bore fruit as most of the participating nations’ could not take part in the opening ceremony parade initially as they got stuck in their team buses because of police restrictions following the protests.
Barring the unfortunate incident, the opening ceremony, otherwise was near perfect in-front of 21,000 packed stadium.
But the organizers heaved a sigh of relief, when the police finally managed to clear the way for athletes of all competing nations to be part of the opening ceremony.
Smartly dressed in sky blue shirts, silver coloured trousers, blue blazers and red stripped ties, the mid-sized Indian contingent looked dapper once they reached the venue.
The 29th edition of Universiade as it is known, will witness the participation of over 11,000 athletes from more than 140 nations in 22 disciplines.
The Games will be played at 38 competition venues, which include two newly built stadiums (Taipei Tennis Center and Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium) from August 19 to 30.
The biggest draw of the games is certainly not any athlete but a coach. The legendary Carl Lewis, who is in Taiwan as the sprint coach for the United States University team.
Hosts Chinese Taipei fielded the biggest contingent with 368 athletes followed by Russia, USA and China, Argentina Canada among others.
Hosts Taiwan, a diplomatically isolated island nation, which is forced to compete as Chinese Taipei in international sporting events, and India were among the affected countries
was also forced to miss the parade, in which only 20 nations took part initially.
The focal point of the ceremony presented an interpretation of Taiwan’s past, present and future. The entire programme was divided into three chapters based on the themes of nature, city and technology.
The first chapter – “Vibrant Island” focused Taiwan’s diverse and colourful local culture, while “Hybrid Taipei” highlighted the taste, smell and friendliness of the city which engages in a dialogue between the traditional and contemporary.
“Global Tribe”, the last chapter, showcased the country’s foray into the digital era.
The Opening Ceremony’s cultural performance presented the story of Taiwan, the lifestyle of urban and country lives, and the imagination of future trend from young artists’
A video message wishing good luck to the organizers and athletes from International Olympic Association (IOA) President Thomas Bach was also played at the stadium screen
during the ceremony.
The Universiade was officially declared open by Taiwan President Ing-wen.
The three-hour long ceremony culminated with an eye- catching acrobatic performances by small children, musical performances followed by a dazzling firework show.
The Universiade, is held every alternate year and is considered second only to the Olympics. It is a multi-sport event organised under the governance of International University of Sports Federation (FISU). The previous summer event was held in Gwangju in South Korea in 2015.