Following is the speech delivered by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Anson Chan, at the Olympic Team welcoming reception at Cafe Sydney in Sydney today (September 14):
Timothy, members of the Olympic squad, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to this reception to mark Hong Kong's participation in the Millennium Olympic Games.
I know I speak for everyone in Hong Kong when I say that we are all very proud of our team. It is the strongest we have ever sent to an Olympics. It includes six Asian Games medallists. It is also one of our largest Olympic contingents - 31 athletes competing in nine sports, backed up by a strong and dedicated group of coaching staff and Olympic Committee officials.
Through hard work, determination and self-sacrifice our athletes have reached the pinnacle of sporting excellence. Everyone back home will be following your progress with enormous interest. And I know that you will be swept up in the super-charged atmosphere of the Olympic Games, in your quest to be 'swifter, higher, stronger' over the next two weeks of competition.
As the Olympic Creed says "The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well". So to all of our athletes here tonight, I simply say that whatever the outcome, you are all the pride of Hong Kong. You are our very own Olympians - and that in itself is an achievement of a lifetime. Win, lose or draw all of Hong Kong will be cheering their hearts out for you - and I will be the cheerleader-in-chief!
You should also feel proud that you are making history. As you know, these Games are especially significant because we are participating in our first Olympics as 'Hong Kong, China'. This is a prime example of how 'One Country, Two Systems' is working for us in Hong Kong. But I suppose, on this occasion, you could say this is more a case of 'One Country, Two Teams'.
Hong Kong first sent teams to compete internationally back in 1934, when we made our debut at the British Empire Games in London. We competed regularly in what are now known as the Commonwealth Games, and made our last appearance in that arena at the 1994 Games in Victoria, Canada.
On that occasion we won four bronze medals. One of those medallists is here tonight - Ken Wallis, who took a bronze in the lawn bowls. Ken is a very well-known sportsman in Hong Kong and is married to Jenny, who heads the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office here in Sydney. Jenny is also a fine lawn bowler and won a bronze medal for Hong Kong at the 1990 Commonwealth Games.
Our Sport Federation and Olympic Committee was founded in 1949 and was recognised as our National Olympic Committee in 1951. Since then, Hong Kong has competed in every Olympics and every Asian Games - starting with the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and the 1954 Asian Games in Manila.
Indeed, 1954 proved to be somewhat a year of firsts - our first Asian Games resulted in our first medal in international competition, a bronze for Stephen Xavier in the Mens's 200m sprint. Stephen now lives in Sydney and is here tonight to help us celebrate the arrival of the first 'Hong Kong, China' team to compete in the first Olympics of the new century. Welcome, Stephen.
Our inaugural Olympics success came during the Atlanta Games four years ago when Lee Lai-shan won gold in the women's sailboard event. 'San San' is our very own 'golden girl' and is in Sydney to defend her title. And if I know 'San San' she'll be giving 150 per cent effort in this year's event.
This is also a landmark year for Timothy Fok, the President of our Sports Federation and Olympic Committee, who is leading the 'Hong Kong, China' team for the first time at an Olympic Games. I know that he and our Chef de Mission Karl Kwok are very excited and proud to be here. And I would just like to thank them and their team for all of their hard work and dedication in furthering sport and the Olympic ideals in Hong Kong.
Our participation in these Games, and the enormous goodwill they generate, makes us even more determined to host the Asian Games in Hong Kong. As many of you know, we are bidding to host the 2006 Games. We will learn in November whether that bid has been successful.
If we are fortunate enough to be chosen to host the Games, you can be sure that we will stage the best Asian Games ever - that's a promise.
Ladies and gentlemen, athletes, thank you for helping us celebrate Hong Kong's participation in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Your support and patronage are deeply appreciated. And, of course, the tremendous efforts of our Olympians are a source of inspiration to us all.
Thank you and good luck to all of our athletes. I would now like to say a few words to our Olympians in Chinese before I close.
End/Thursday, September 14, 2000