SBD/Issue 222/Olympics

Olympic People & Personalities: Yao Ming To Carry China's Flag

Yao To Once Again Be Chinese
Flagbearer During Opening Ceremony
The Chinese Olympic Committee today announced that Rockets and China C YAO MING will carry the Chinese flag during tomorrow's Opening Ceremony (, 8/7). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Jere Longman writes many expect Chinese hurdler LIU XIANG will "play a visible role" in the Opening Ceremony, which could include lighting the Olympic cauldron. Longman notes "dramatic public appearances by Liu have been rare since May 23, when he won the 110-meter hurdles at a rehearsal" at the Beijing National Stadium (N.Y. TIMES, 8/7).

STARTING FIVE: Yao is not the only current or former NBAer to be selected as a flag bearer tomorrow night -- Spurs G MANU GINOBILI (Argentina), former Pacers G SARUNAS JASIKEVICIUS (Lithuania), Jazz F ANDREI KIRILENKO (Russia) and Mavericks F DIRK NOWITZKI (Germany) will do the honors for their respective countries. Nowitzki: "It shows that Basketball is getting bigger all over the world" (, 8/7).

SERVE & RALLY: Swiss tennis player ROGER FEDERER said that protests over Tibet and China's human rights record "had not affected his thinking over whether to compete in Beijing." Federer: "I know the issues but there was never a question about taking part in the Olympic Games. I was disappointed what happened to the torch when it came to Europe and particularly Paris and London. It's not nice to see those things. It's supposed to be a celebration, right? I hope the Olympics will improve getting to know the Chinese people and the other way around so hopefully it will be good for everybody" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 8/7).

NAMES: In Ft. Lauderdale, Sharon Robb reports U.S. swimmer DARA TORRES is appearing in a Lexus commercial in the South Florida region and a "clothing line has approached" her (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/7)....In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes, "You can't go five blocks in Beijing without seeing [U.S. swimmer MICHAEL] PHELPS smiling back at you from a bus stop or a billboard" (N.Y. POST, 8/7)....The IOC today elected former Moroccan hurdler NAWAL EL MOUTAWAKEL to its Exec Board, making her the "highest-ranking woman in the Olympic movement and the first woman from a Muslim nation on the rule-making body" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/7)....In Australia, Jacquelin Magnay reported IOC Press Commission Chair KEVAN GOSPER "may struggle to retain" his position amid the "fallout from China's internet censorship row." Gosper's public references to IOC President JACQUES ROGGE and his "suspicions of a deal having been done between the IOC and Chinese authorities have not gone down well." One IOC source said of Gosper, "The second Kevan mentioned [Rogge] as having gone behind his back, that was it, his days are numbered, we will be looking for a new press chief" (, 8/3).

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