Sat, Sep 11, 2004 - Page 1 News List

President celebrates Paralympic Games with flag ceremony

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian yesterday presents a national flag to his wife, Wu Shu-chen, who will head Taiwan's delegation in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. About 4,000 athletes and 2,000 officials from 145 countries will take part in the games from Sept. 17 to 28.

PHOTO: SUNG CHIH-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday presented a flag to his wife, Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍), who will head the nation's paralympics delegation to the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens.

While commending the courage and spirit of the athletes who will take part in the international paralympic games, Chen also expressed concern over Wu's physical condition.

"[I am] always quite concerned about the strain on A-chen's physical condition that the journey may impose everytime she travels abroad on my behalf," Chen said, calling Wu by her nickname.

Wu was paralyzed from the waist down after being hit by a truck in an assassination attempt in 1985.

"She told me that although being in a wheelchair means a lot of inconvenience for her in moving around, `running around' is still the way to go to widen Taiwan's diplomatic space and let people know about Taiwan's situation," Chen said. "It is for this reason she insists on making the trip, regardless of how demanding it may be on her physically."

"And in spite of my worries of her physical condition, I am in full support of her decision [in heading the paralympics delegation]," the president said at a ceremony yesterday. The event was staged to generate support and encouragement for the members of the delegation before they head to Athens tomorrow on a chartered flight.

The Paralympic Games are the Olympics for athletes with disabilities. The Paralympic Games are usually held in the same year and at the same venue as the regular Olympic Games.

The nation's delegation includes 25 athletes and is accompanied by physicians, coaches and therapists. The group is slated to arrive in the Greek capital of Athens five days prior to the games, which will be held from Sept. 17 to Sept. 28.

While encouraging the physically challenged players to strive for excellence in the games as they work to overcome their physical restrictions, Wu also expressed her hope that every player would show sportsmanship in the course of participating in the games.

"To take part in the game is not just for striving for good performance but also a learning experience in the course of the contest itself," Wu said.

Aside from attending the games' opening ceremony on Sept. 17, the first lady will also visit the athletes' village and will attempt to attend every competition in which Taiwanese athletes are scheduled to compete in order "to do all she can to support our players."

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