JAKARTA – Jordan Clarkson led the Philippine delegation in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games which formally unfurled on Saturday night at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium.
About 130 Filipino athletes joined the parade led by Clarkson, who carried the Philippine flag into the main stadium behind about more than 70,000 spectators inside the stadium.
Clarkson became the country’s flag bearer after the NBA allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers cager to play for the Philippines in the quadrennial showpiece.
The Philippines is looking to improve on its one-gold, three-silver, 11-bronze performance from 2014 in Incheon, Korea.
“I’m expecting our athletes to perform well because they have enough time to prepare,” said Philippines chief of mission Richard Gomez. “I’m hoping that we perform better than the last Asian Games.”
Clarkson’s presence in the Philippine delegation appears to have given the athletes a positive boost as they vie for honor and glory to the country.
“So far, mataas ang morale ng mga athletes. It’s nice to see them here. Ang importante ‘yung pumapasok sila sa village, masaya sila, mataas ang morale. It helps them in their performance,” said Gomez.
Indonesia celebrated the return of the Asian Games in its country since it staged the fourth edition in 1962 with a spectacular opening rites and the march of athletes from 45 Asian nations.
Clarkson was all smiles as he waved the Philippine flag around while marching into the stadium, with International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworksi also holding a flag from the VIP area.
Indonesia president Joko Widodo declared the Asian Games open with Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahda Al Sabah and Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee (Inasgoc) chairman Erick Thohir in attendance.
Forty-five flags appeared in the opening rites as South Korea and North Korea was represented by a unified flag.
For the first time, the Asian Games will be hosted by two cities with Jakarta and Palembang hosting the quadrennial showpiece.