BEIJING (AP) — Former NBA great Yao Ming said Monday he and others had a pleasant talk when they met last month with Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, whose disappearance after making a sexual assault allegation against a former government official raised international concern.
He also said
it is unfortunate that Novak Djokovic won't play at the Australian Open because of his COVID-19 vaccination status. But Yao added that he isn't 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 to promote the Beijing Winter Olympics, which open in 18 days.
Asked about China's relations with the U.S., which has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games, Yao likened sporting and cultural events to the community temple gatherings he went to as a child in Shanghai.
"On that occasion, even with the neighbors I had bickered with, I would nod my head (in greeting)," he said. "Then we went on with whatever we needed to do. I think we need more of this kind of temple gathering."