Peres to lead Olympic delegation to Beijing

Peres 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Peres 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Chinese wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. After President Shimon Peres declined invitations to attend the opening of next month's Olympic Games in Beijing so as not to transgress Shabbat, the Chinese government decided to put him up in a hotel within easy walking distance of the Olympic stadium's VIP area, where the Friday night ceremony is scheduled to take place. These efforts enabled the president to announce Wednesday that he'll lead the Israeli delegation to the Olympic Games. While not religiously observant in private, Peres makes every effort to observe Shabbat in public. The president's work to establish diplomatic ties between China and Israel and his position as honorary president of the Israel China Friendship Association endeared him to his Chinese counterparts, who were keen for him to join world leaders in marking the opening of the 2008 Olympics. Peres will not travel to China in an Israel Air Force plane but will take a regular commercial flight, and will be accompanied by a relatively small retinue.