Minister of Science, Culture, and Sport Minister Raleb Majadele (Labor) arrived late Thursday for the Israeli delegation's traditional flag-raising ceremony at the Olympic village in Beijing and made an appearance only after the Israeli national anthem Hatikva was played and the Israeli flag was raised, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday.
According to Majadele's aides, the minister's tardiness was due to the fact that his personal Chinese guide was misinformed as to the ceremony's location.
Meanwhile President Shimon Peres arrived in Beijing Thursday and was greeted with a special ceremony at the airport. Peres is the first Israeli president to attend the Olympic games since Israel began participating in 1952. Peres is one of only eight leaders who are scheduled to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao during the course of the games and is also due to appear on a number of local TV shows.
At the request of the president's delegation, the Chinese organizers reserved a room for Peres at a hotel located in walking distance to Beijing's National Stadium so that he would not have to desecrate the Sabbath on his way to Friday's opening ceremony.
"China is looking to the future and its accomplishments over the past few years have been unbelievable," Peres said. "China does not want to conquer the world, but rather conquer the world's heart, and it will not do so through military force, but with scientific might."
Shortly after arriving in Beijing Peres visited the Israeli athletes at the Olympic village.