| A military band performs at the flag plaza during the opening of the Athletes’ Village in Busan on Tuesday. (AFP)
Dili: The delegation head of East Timor, the world’s youngest nation, is enthusiastic about participating in the Asian Games and says taking part is much more important than winning, or losing.
East Timor, which gained independence from Indonesia on May 20 after 31 months of unrest, is sending a team of six officials and 24 athletes tocompete in nine events, said East Timorese Sport Association president Joao Carrascalao.
“The most important thing for us at this moment is to take part and contribute to the success of the Games, rather than concern ourselves with victories or defeat,” Carrascalao, the delegation head said. “Of course, who does not want to win, but most of all we want to take part.”
East Timorese athletes, he said, have been training hard since the country was informed earlier this month that the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) had decided to allow it a temporary membership so that it could take part in the Games from September 29 to October 14.
The OCA plans to hold an executive board meeting during the Asian Games to allow East Timor full membership, the Busan Asian Games organizing committee has said.
East Timor will compete in boxing, badminton, tennis, table tennis, weightlifting, taekwondo, karate, cycling and track and field.
Carrascalao said that his teams are strongly determined to take part and perform well, despite the odds being stacked against them.
“The conditions here are not very good. With the lack of equipment, proper facilities and appropriate diet, it is a struggle for them to train,” he said.
He declined to speculate on the likely performances of his contingent of athletes saying they had very little international experience. “It is hard to say, because we have no prior exposure to the Asian Games,” he said.
Busan will be its third international sports event after the Sydney Olympics and the Arafura Regional Games in Darwin, northern Australia.
“But the Asian Games is, for us, the most important occasion for our athletes,” Carrascalao said, adding that only three of the four athletes who took part in the 2000 Olympics would compete in Pusan. He gave no names or details.