This Is Asia’s Century, Says Yudhoyono
SANUR ~ President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono believes the 21st century will mark the unstoppable rise of Asia, with events like the Asian Beach Games here showcasing the continent’s dynamism.
Yudhoyono added that with the global economy in crisis and conflict wracking the world, the inaugural Games, which brings together athletes from 45 Asian nations, was a reminder that the “sprit of man cannot be broken.”
“This Games is important in the way it highlights the rise of Asia. The 21st century, I am convinced, is the Asian century,” Yudhoyono said in a speech officially opening the nine-day event at the weekend.
“More and more Asians will be brought to prosperity in this century, more and more Asian cultures will benefit from the growing labyrinth of globalization.
“And that Asian renaissance will be felt across all sectors – in diplomacy, in economy, in technology, in arts and, of course, in sports.
“That is why I have every hope and confidence that this Asian Beach Games will grow and spread to reflect the dynamism and strengths of Asian sportsmanship on the world stage.”
The Beach Games, which features traditional Asian sports such as kabbadi, pencak silat, sepaktakraw, and dragon boat racing, follows hot on the heels of the hugely successful Beijing Olympics.
With International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge sitting next to him, Yudhoyono told the athletes the spirit of the two events was the same.
“Your presence here is no different. Just as they did at the Beijing Olympics, you are here to compete with the best of the best in beach sports,” he said.
“You are here to battle the arena of sportsmanship and excellence, and I hope you realize you are also making history by becoming part of an international competition for a new breed of sport – beach sport.”
He added that once again sport had shown it could break down barriers, with 45 countries represented despite political and religious differences.
“With all that is going on around the world – economic crisis, conflict, violence, poverty, disease – what you do here will remind us that the spirit of man cannot be broken,” he said.
“You remind us that life is worth fighting for and we must reach out to one another, and you remind us of the glory of our common humanity.
“That is why I see the first Asian Beach Games as an agent to advance the harmony of civilizations and an antidote of the clash of civilizations because it brings man, woman and nations even closer in a spirit of togetherness and mutual respect.”