New Taipei, Nov. 8 (CNA) Vice Prime Minister Lai Ching-te (賴清德), the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate, on Wednesday unveiled policy proposals aimed at bolstering Taiwan’s sports industry, including a pledge to increase the country’s sports budget to more than NT$20 billion (US$620 million).
Lai unveiled the proposals at a campaign event attended by individuals from the sports industry, who gathered to show their support for the DPP candidate, including former Olympic medalist Chi Cheng (紀政).
If elected, Lai said, the budget allocated to sports-related policy and projects would be increased from the current NT$13 billion to more than NT$20 billion.
A “sports development ministry” that would aim to grow the sports industry, would also be established, the vice president said.
He said that the Sports Administration has thus far performed admirably in training athletes for national teams and overseeing the country’s physical education, but that the importance of the sports industry means it requires its own dedicated and competent authority.
The VP added that he would also push policies to promote “national sports” that enjoy widespread popularity among members of the public and increase funding for professional athletes to boost their chances of winning honors in international sporting events.
He said he would reinstate and expand a policy introduced while he was prime minister, which had provided an NT$6.4 billion funding pot to support athletes from their student days into retirement, to ensure that they were properly supported by the government, even as they headed into older age.
In addition, Lai said, he would introduce policies to make high-performance sports in the country more popular, for example by encouraging clubs to be set up to promote soccer and increase the chance of discovering talented players.
He said he would ensure that resources are more equally distributed between different sports, not concentrated on just one or two, and make sure that the government works more closely with sports associations.
Furthermore, Lai pledged to ensure future international sporting events held by Taiwan reach global standards and also promised to transform Taiwan into a leading organizer of international sports events, which, he said, could help improve performances by Taiwanese athletes.
(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Sean Lin)