National Basketball Association (NBA) star Jordan Clarkson, who plays guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers, will carry the Philippine flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Asian Games this evening, having initially been told he was unable to compete at the event.
The NBA originally said none of their players could take part at the Games in Jakarta and Palembang, because their agreement with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) only allows players to compete internationally at the Olympics, FIBA World Cup and Continental Cups.
They then released a statement, however, saying that due to a lack of "clear communication of that agreement", players would be granted a "one-time exemption" to take part.
It means Clarkson, born in the United States but has a half-Filipino mother, can now play for the Philippines, while two Chinese NBA players Zhou Qi and Ding Yanyuhang can now compete for their country as well.
Speaking of his role as the Philippines’ flag bearer, 26-year-old Filipino-American Clarkson called the honour, "exciting".
According to the Philippines’ Chef de Mission Richard Gomez, the country have shipped out six different Opening Ceremony outfits at short notice, to ensure one fits Clarkson, who stands at 1.96 metres tall.
"Those were the only oversize ones left, so we shipped them out as fast as we can," he said.
The costume is made of silk and bears the "harimanok" design as well as the sun on both breasts.
It will be worn by the 270-strong national contingent with Clarkson at the front during the Ceremony at Jakarta's 75,000-capacity Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium.
It was Gomez reportedly that endorsed Clarkson as flag bearer to the Philippine Olympic Committee, saying that the basketball star was “a good role model” and that “he will inspire other athletes here to do well”.
Gomez also said that the decision to have Clarkson as flag bearer, despite him having been born outside of the Philippies, sent a message that regardless of where a Filipino athlete grew up, “we are just one big sports family.”
Preliminary matches have already taken place in basketball at the Asian Games, although Clarkson has yet to play yet.
The official events are scheduled to begin tomorrow.