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Chinese athletes will attend the Universiade after all

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- With just a few days before the deadline passes, China has registered for its athletes to attend next month's Universiade in Taipei.

In May, Chinese sporting authorities declined to register for the competition's group events, such as baseball and basketball, and there had been speculation it may also send no athletes for the individual events.

But Taipei announced yesterday that China had applied for 180 people to attend the college student sporting tournament, with 110 of them athletes.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said Monday that while in Shanghai last month for a cross-strait cities forum, Chinese officials told him that a scheduling conflict was to blame for China's potential no-show.

The Universiade is usually held in June or July, but this year it's being held Aug. 19-30, which overlaps with the run-up to China's National Games, which are being held in September.

The games are a big deal in China — those who perform well win not only gold medals but can also receive rewards including houses and jobs.

As the country's top talent will remain in China for those games, the athletes sent to participate in the Universiade might be more of a "B team," Ko said.

Ko was cagey when asked whether his attendance at the forum was the breakthrough in getting China to send athletes for the Universiade.

His attendance had, at the very least, provided a means of communication between the two sides, Ko said.

The mayor received criticism for his attendance to and comments at the forum, which some said echoed Beijing's cross-strait stance and were made to curry favor with Chinese authorities.

Also Sunday, it was announced that all 12,000 available tickets had sold out for the Universiade's opening ceremony, Central News Agency reported.

However, only 17 percent of tickets for the closing ceremony had been snapped up.

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