Friday, May 20, 2022

Former NBA great Yao Ming addresses Peng Shuai, Olympics

BEIJING ( Associated Press) – Former NBA great Yao Ming said on Monday that he and others had a pleasant conversation last month during a meeting with Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, whose sexual assault against a former government official came after his disappearance. International concern was heightened after the allegation of harassment.

He also said that it is unfortunate that Novak Djokovic will not play in the Australian Open due to his COVID-19 vaccination status. But Yao said he was not qualified to judge Australia’s pandemic policies.

Yao, who played for the Houston Rockets from 2002–11 and is now president of the Chinese Basketball Association, used stories and humor to deflect challenging questions at a news conference promoting the Beijing Winter Olympics, which opened in 18 days. Did.

Asked about China’s ties with the US, which has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games, Yao compared the sporting and cultural events to the community temple gatherings he attended as a child in Shanghai .

“On that occasion, even the neighbors with whom I had a rift, I would shake my head (in greetings),” he said. I think we need more such temple gatherings.”

He also called the game a bridge for communication, adding that sometimes bridges collide, but “we hope we can maintain the bridge.”

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Peng, who won the women’s doubles Grand Slam title, denied accusing a Singapore newspaper of the attack, posting photos of her with Yao and two former Olympians on social media the same day. The photos appear to be part of a campaign to respond to international demands that Peng be allowed to speak freely about his condition.

Yao said that he had known Peng for nearly 20 years. Four Chinese sporting figures were photographed on an observation deck from where they viewed the winter sports exhibition.

“We had a pleasant conversation,” he said. “We asked a lot of questions about the sport because we weren’t familiar with snow sports.”

At one point, it was unclear whether he said Peng was okay. Some people, including the news conference translator, heard her say “she was fine that day,” but others thought Yao said, “We were all fine that day.”

The International Olympic Committee, which has been pressured to move the Games from China due to human rights concerns, came under further fire after IOC President Thomas Bach held a video call with Peng. An IOC statement said it assured Bach and others that he was fine.

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Regarding Djokovic, Yao said he was not familiar with Australia’s pandemic measures, “so I am not in a position to comment whether he did right or wrong.”

But, he added, “Speaking as a former athlete, I feel sorry for it for an athlete to miss out on such an opportunity and for the audience to enjoy watching the player’s skill. “

The former Rockets center also said it wanted to invite Boston Celtics center Aeneas Kantor Freedom, who has argued a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, to visit China to develop a deeper understanding of the country. He said he could not comment on Freedom’s situation, but “everyone gets information from different channels and this can lead to different perspectives.”

Yao, 41, said society should embrace technology as it brings more convenience and promotes communication. But he began his answer by saying, “If you allow me to choose, I would go back 10 years without these high technologies so that I could move more freely.”


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