"Keep the Lion flag flying high" – Sri Lanka President
Beijing, 07 August, (Asiantribune.com): Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa left for China yesterday morning to attend the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics, on an official invitation by the Government of the People's Republic of China.
Sources revealed that Chinese vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Wu Dawei, who was in Colombo last week to attend the 15th SAARC Summit, personally extended the invitation to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakss on behalf of the Government of the People's Republic of China, as a special guest of Chinese President Hu Jintao.
A reliable source in the Presidential Secretariat told ‘Asian Tribune,’ that Sri Lanka President is scheduled to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and the Chinese Minister of Commerce for bilateral trade discussions during this official tour.
He also revealed that President Mahinda Rajapaksa will also visit Sichuan province, which is hit by a devastating earthquake in the month of May, this year.
This will be the very first occasion a Sri Lankan President is attending an Olympic ceremony.
President Mahinda Rajapakse arrived in the Beijing Airport yesterday. He was received at the airport by Mr.Wang Wei, Vice Minister of China, Also Karunarathne Amunugama, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in China was present at the airport to receive the President.
Sri Lanka President after landing in Beijing, immediately went to the Athletes Village, to meet the Sri Lankan contingent, which is making its final preparations for the 205-nation Games.
The President's 45-minute visit to the Athletes Village was a big surprise and a source of encouragement to the Sri Lanka team. "You are the sporting ambassadors of our country. Whatever you do would reflect the image of our country, President said.
"Maintain a high level of discipline and make every endeavor to make your presence felt and Sri Lanka proud," the President said when he addressed the Lankan contingent.
"It is not winning or losing that matters, but how one played the game. Make every endeavor to keep the Lion flag flying high, but at the same time you have to be disciplined and maintain sportsmanship at all times," he continued.
The President said the eight sportsmen and women who have qualified to represent Sri Lanka at the Beijing Olympics have got a rare honor and it is their duty to make the best opportunity.
"Sport is a great leveller and it would develop solidarity amongst nations. Make use of that and try your hearts out to put Sri Lanka prominently on the international sporting map," the sports-loving President said.
He wished all success to the Sri Lanka contingent during the Olympics. President Rajapaksa accompanied by the Minister of Sports and Public Recreation Gamini Lokuge, was received on arrival by the Chef-de-Mission of the Sri Lanka contingent and Vice President of the National Olympic Committee Dian Gomes.
He thanked President Rajapaksa for coming all the way to the Athletes Village to inspire the Lankan Olympians. President Rajapaksa will be amongst nearly 85 Heads of States who will attend Friday's mega opening ceremony as the VVIP guests of the IOC.
Seven of the eight Sri Lankan Olympians have already checked in at the Athletes Village.
The Overall captain of the Sri Lanka contingent Susanthika Jayasinghe is due to arrive here on Thursday from the US, where she has been training since early this year.
- Asian Tribune -