It's great, but it doesn't make up for Sars disappointment, says a team official In a gesture rich with symbolism, Irish President Mary McAleese and husband Martin McAleese took time from a China trade mission to meet Hong Kong's Special Olympics team last night. The Irish government came under heavy criticism in June after imposing quarantine measures to prevent the spread of Sars. It ordered the team to first spend 10 days in Macau before travelling to Dublin for the games. That meant the team could only afford to send half its members. Ms McAleese greeted the athletes, who wore the medals they won in Dublin, in a function room at the Grand Hyatt hotel. Although she did not apologise for the controversy surrounding the quarantine, she did say it was important the team attended the games. 'It was very important for them to make it,' she later said. 'It would have broken our hearts if they had not been able to come.' The president and her husband afterwards attended a reception for the local Irish community. Silva Yeung Tak-wah, one of the Hong Kong team officials who travelled to Ireland with the team, said it was a significant gesture by the president. 'Her being here tonight doesn't make up for the athlete's disappointment, but it was a real honour for the team to meet the president,' he said. 'She made a point to see us before anyone else. That is a great honour.' David Ip Siu-wo, chairman of the Hong Kong Special Olympics, said the president insisted she meet the entire team. He said the athletes had got over their disappointment at missing the Dublin games. Athletes were able to attend a recent sporting competition in Macau and were looking forward to another in Kuala Lumpur to be held Friday. Sitting with his training partner Lui Yan-yee was swimmer Ah Chiu, one of the athletes who was forced to remain behind. In Dublin Yan-yee said she would consider giving Ah Chiu one of her batch of medals when she returned to Hong Kong. Had she done so? 'No,' she giggled, clutching her gold and silver haul tightly. But Ah Chiu has since won one silver and one gold medal in a swimming event in Macau. 'I am very happy now,' he said last night. Over the next week, the Irish president will travel to Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang and Shenzhen.