TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Taiwan became one of the few places where a boat race was held on Thursday, as no local transmissions of the corona virus had been reported on the island for more than two months.
The pandemic led to the cancellation of traditional dragon boat racing in Hong Kong and holiday activities in Beijing, which is plaguing another outbreak. Races were held in Macao, which reported relatively few COVID-19 cases.
In Taipei, about 80 teams gathered at Dajia Riverside Park to compete under the blazing sun in the two-day race, with boats decorated with decorative dragon statues.
“Don’t worry if someone gives you COVID-19 (because) you check your temperature everywhere you go,” said Farrouck Ruiz, a 20-year-old Nicaraguan student who studies at Mingchuan University in Taipei and took part in the race .
The participants did not wear masks during the races. They were given hand sanitizers and their hands and rows were sprayed with alcohol before rowing.
Although the race in Taipei continued, supporters were not allowed to attend.
“Our team trained for a whole year just for this race,” said Lydia Lee, who works in digital marketing. “But they don’t allow supporters and we thought that would take away some of the fun.”
In China, Wang Jiequn, deputy head of the Human Resources Department of the Beijing Committee of the ruling Communist Party, said that all activities related to the Dragon Boat Festival will be held online this year.
The Chinese capital has shut down parts of the city and is limiting travel due to the new outbreak that has infected approximately 250 people.
Several parks in Beijing have launched activities such as online games, quizzes and websites to allow visitors to learn more about the festival tradition. Other activities include online poetry recitals and plant courses.
Aside from dragon boat races, Taipei also hosts a Gay Pride parade on Sundays.
More than 450 Pride events in honor of LGBT people around the world have been canceled due to the pandemic. Organizers say the Sunday parade is the only one during Pride month in June.
Hong Kong AP writer Zen Soo contributed to this report.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.