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Home >  CASE STUDIESTaiwan's field of dreams
Taiwan's field of dreams
Interplan organised the creative magic and logistics behind the opening and closing ceremonies of the Taipei 2017 Universiade. Steve Cray reports

16 May 2018

TAIWAN-based Interplan Group won the bid to organise and run the opening and closing ceremonies of last year’s international Summer Universiade in Taipei involving more than 7,600 athletes from 145 countries and regions  competing in 21 sports over 271 events.

Taipei was appointed host city of the games by the International University Sports Federation in 2011, beating off competition from Brasilia, Brazil, and Yung-feng Chung, commissioner with the city government’s Department of Cultural Affairs, praised the August ceremonies as being “a great success”.

In total, 3,800 people contributed to the effort: 2,500 cast and 1,300 crew, according to Universiade.

Winning pitch

Interplan, a live communication agency with more than 35 years of experience, competed with several large foreign operators for the right to run the ceremonies.

Martha Weng, the group’s chief strategy officer, combined exper-ienced event professionals and local partners with Taiwan artists to form the bidding team.

Apart from a small number of foreign specialists consulting on the show concept, technology and design of pyrotechnics and special effects, 98 per cent of the team were local.

It is thought that Interplan’s involve-ment in the 2009 Kaohsiung World Games and 2013 NuSkin Dubai Show gave it the edge in the bidding process.


The run-up to the ceremonies involved training and rehearsals for more than 2,000 dancers, with the challenge of finding a rehearsal site before the renovation of the 25,000-capacity Taipei stadium was completed.

Another challenge was to ensure the event setup could be dismantled in time as the track-and-field contests started 26 hours after the opening ceremony ended. Then another setup needed to be in place in the period between the final athletics event and the start of the closing ceremony.

Protesters outside the stadium, including opponents to pension reforms, initially prevented many athletes from joining the opening ceremony, which had to be delayed. After 20 minutes they were let through, with 5,600 uniformed and plainclothes police overseeing the operation, and the opening ceremony resumed.

The opening ceremony’s Taiwan cultural programme was divided into three parts: Vibrant Island, Hybrid Taipei and Global Tribe, which introduced the history and culture of the island, focusing on its contemporary urban setting and its connectivity with the world via technology, sport and music.

On the 1,200 sqm stage was the world’s largest floor-based LED display – with a pixel pitch of 4.8mm – to be used in a stadium show. Combining graphic design and performance art was a huge task for the video-content design team, which comprised about a dozen local studios, led by award-winning video artist Agi Chen.

The creative production team, led by Michael Tu, president of Interplan Group, included Chin-chen Chen and Yunyu Wang as chief production heads, as well as Xiao-ping Lee and Hans Christoph-Muecke as artistic advisors.

Show directors for the opening were Chieh-hua Hsieh, Zou-han Liao and Kun-ying Lin, three young artists combining dance, theatre and technology art, supported by local contemporary dance choreo-graphers. Success was achieved following 18 months of preparation. The lighting of the event cauldron was a major highlight of the opening ceremony. With baseball being the most popular team sport in Taiwan, the idea was to light the cauldron with a flaming baseball, but using a real ball was considered too risky by the creative team. So it took an innovation by Elements Entertainment from Germany to make it happen. 

Elements designed a version of a fireball using a line-rocket system that guided the ball into the cauldron.

The carnival-style closing ceremony involved athletes from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Dominica and the UK, carrying banners and flags as a token of thanks to Taiwan, as well as a performance by representatives of Naples, Italy, hosts of the 2019 Summer Universiade.

The extinguishing of the cauldron was an emotional highlight, with music played on traditional Taiwanese and western instruments.


For the Interplan team and their associates, it was a case of mission accomplished!  The Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade will have won a place in the hearts of athletes, volunteers, organisers and Taiwanese people for many years to come.

Yung-feng Chung, commissioner with the city government’s Department of Cultural Affairs, wrote to congratulate Interplan on a job well done.

“International athletes and distinguished guests were allowed to experience Taiwan’s unique culture and hospitality through the perfectly orchestrated programmes of the ceremonies.

“The audience in the stadium, as well as live broadcast viewers, were fascinated by the great crossover performances integrated into the world’s largest LED floor display.

“The Universiade is by far the largest international event hosted in Taiwan, and its great success was achieved collectively through your company’s expertise in mega event planning, global marketing, and consulting services.

“Once again, thank you for your efforts in the past 18 months. Together we made a difference.”



EVENT: Taipei 2017 29th Summer Universiade – opening and closing ceremonies

ORGANISER: FISU Taipei Organising Committee

CREATIVE AGENCY: Interplan Group

VENUE: Taipei Stadium

ATTENDEES: 25,000+ spectators; 7,600 athletes; 2,500 cast; 1,300 crew

DATES: Opening ceremony: Aug 19; Closing: Aug 30, 2017

Tags :
event planning   Sports   Taiwan  

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