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The World Games 2009 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan II

25/07/2009

The World Games 2009 is ending soon and the closing ceremony is on Sunday 26th July. In the beginning, the ticket sale was reported to be poor. However, since the opening, the ticket sale has improved dramatically.

The tickets for the closing ceremony are completely sold out and due to the huge demands and continuous requests, the KOC had to release another 1000 seats where the views are not as good or the seating is not as comfortable at the last minute. This was achieved despite the fact that the majority of media (pro-KMT) wittingly or unwittingly ignored the World Games, as there was no live coverage and few reports of the event. They only started covering the results and showing highlights when the public interest was so overwhelming that they had to respond.

Kaohsiung Train Station & the World Games

I blogged about how former Kaohsiung mayor, Frank Hsieh, brought the World Games to Kaohsiung the day before the opening. During the course of the Games, Hsieh explained how Kaohsiung impressed the IWGA officials who visited Kaohsiung before the bid. During the visit, Hsieh and his team presented to the officials their plan for the whole city and showed them around Kaohsiung. At the time, the various construction and renovation projects had already started, including the underground and the train station. When they passed the Kaohsiung Train Station, the officials saw that the old station building was still there. Hsieh explained that the city government decided to keep the old building, built in the Japanese time, for the history and the memories of the local people.

To keep this old concrete building, they had to lift and prop the building up, place steel rails underneath and use heavy machines to move the building. The building could only be moved 40cms per hour (less than 1cm per minute). There was a lot of ridicule from the media but Hsieh toughed it out and had the old building moved nearby and moved back after the new structure was done.  It took 16 days altogether to move the building each way. This was considered one of the best decisions Hsieh made for Kaohsiung. Apparently, the IWGA officials were very impressed by the length Hsieh’s Kaohsiung city government was willing to go to preserve the building due to historical and cultural significance and this seemed to be crucial in winning their support for Kaohsiung. They came to believe that a team with such determination, sensitivity to the culture and attention to details and hard work would be able to hold the international event.

Hsieh’s support for young athletes

The athlete who just won a gold medal in light weight powerlifting, Hsieh Tsung-ting, expressed his gratitude towards Frank Hsieh and said that without Frank Hsieh’s support, he would not have been able to get the medal.

Frank Hsieh told the press how he came across those young people. He said that he saw some young athletes practising in the sports centre when he was jogging outside. One of them was Hsieh Tsung-ting. He went to find out more about the athletes and realised that Tsung-ting had to travel from Taichung to Kaohsiung (over 2 hours by car or by train) just for training and practice. At the time, Tsung-ting had to work as a temporary manual worker in the Taichung harbour area to support himself. It was not because he could not find a more stable employment. He just needed the flexibility so that he could spare time for training and competitions. But as a result, there was no steady income and life was hard. After Frank Hsieh knew about this, he helped Tsung-ting find a suitable job in Kaohsiung and support Tsung-ting and other young people with his expenses account. Apart from the financial support, he would often visit and talk with young athletes and show great encouragement, especially before they are going to compete.

The closing ceremony is tomorrow. Frank Hsieh said that he was very happy that the Games were going better than he had envisaged. I hope everything goes well.

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