Fans of the Taiwan national basketball team say they felt confused and “chosen” after “bizarre” rules prevented them from displaying Taiwanese flags during a basketball game.
On Friday night, Chinese Taipei played against China in a match for the Asian qualifier of the International Basketball Federation Basketball World Cup 2023 at the John Cain Arena in Melbourne Park.
China won the match 94-58.
Andrew Farrugia, an Australian basketball fan with family ties to Taiwan, says he was stopped by security personnel when he tried to enter the arena while carrying a Taiwanese flag.
“He showed a document stating that Taiwanese flags are not allowed in the arena and that the flag must be hung in the cloakroom before I can enter,” Farrugia said.
“I was a bit confused because this hasn’t happened before, but he said there had been some problems between protesters and Chinese fans the night before.”
Andrew Farrugia says he believes Taiwanese fans were “selected” and stopped displaying their flags during a World Cup qualifier against China in Melbourne. Source: Delivered
The basketball fan said security personnel showed him a document listing prohibited items, including the Taiwanese flag, and said the guidelines came from the global governing body for basketball, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
FIBA told australiabusinessblog News that the use of flags in competitions was restricted to approved countries and federations.
According to FIBA Regulations and Venue Rules, only flags and anthems of the countries or affiliated national federations approved and recognized by FIBA may be used during competitions and draws, in addition to the FIBA flag and the flag of the respective competition, if no said FIBA.
“In addition, FIBA Venue Rules do not permit individuals to make statements, statements or other actions that convey a nationalistic, political, religious, ethnic or racist message that is not appropriate for a sports competition.”
Within FIBA, Taiwan competes under the flag of Chinese Taipei and does not fly the traditional Taiwanese flag.
Mr Farrugia says this was the first time he saw this rule enforced.
“I’ve seen Taiwan play here in Melbourne before, but this is the first time it’s happened to me,” he said.
“I understand that in order to participate in international tournaments, Taiwan must play under the flag of Chinese Taipei, but I don’t see why there should be any restrictions on carrying this particular flag. Who makes these decisions?”
Taiwanese supporters Li-Ling Lin and Yi-Ting Lee say that while they were allowed to bring in their flag on Friday night, they noticed there weren’t many others.
“I did see some small banners, but we probably had the largest flag,” they said.
The women also noted an increased security presence, which they attributed to the incident the night before.
Yi-Ting Lee got to carry her Taiwanese flag in the basketball game, but didn’t see many others. Source: Delivered
Hayden McHugh attended the match with Taiwanese friends and says his group was also told not to wave their flag over the empty seats in front of them.
“I thought there would be some kind of stadium policy that you can’t have flags over seats in general, but then I saw a whole bunch of huge Chinese flags doing the same thing all over the stadium,” he said.
“Whether (directing) was from FIBA or the stadium, or just the security and police working together… it was really strange. I can’t think of a time I’ve seen anything like it in Australia, it was pretty bizarre.”
At a FIBA match on Thursday night, human rights protesters standing up for Tibet and Hong Kong were removed from the venue during a match between Australia and China.
FIBA told australiabusinessblog News that several individuals were escorted out of the venue on June 30 for “inappropriate behavior”.