China's Olympic athletes are stepping up to aid the relief efforts in Sichuan and Yao Ming and the rest of the Chinese Olympic team are no exception. Reuters and the AFP both report today that Yao Ming pledged 500,000 yuan (about US$71,000) and an additional $214,000 to the Red Cross Society of China, and a later report from the AFP quotes Chinese sources as saying that Yao had pledged 2 million yuan, which works out to the same amount - around US$285,000. Liu Xiang has also contributed to the relief effort spearheaded by China's Olympians, many of whom are already gathered in Beijing training for the Olympics. The IOC had previously announced that it would contribute US$1 million to the rescue efforts.
Nelson Luis, the Houston Rockets' director of media relations, shared the following statements today from Yao Ming and Rockets owner Leslie Alexander with the members of the media who regularly cover the team. Here are the statements in their entirety:
Houston Rockets Center Yao Ming:
"It is very hard putting into words how difficult it is to see this kind of destruction in Sichuan. I am very saddened to hear of the large loss of life that has occurred. My thoughts are with everyone back in my home country of China during this very dark and emotional time. Right now, the most important thing we can do is to respond quickly to help those who cannot help themselves. I plan to do whatever I can and would like to thank Leslie Alexander and the Houston Rockets for the support they have already pledged. I hope that many others around the world will join us."
Houston Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander:
"On behalf of the Houston Rockets, I want to offer my deepest sympathies to all who have been affected by the earthquake in Sichuan, China on Monday. Over the past several years, we have formed a strong bond with our friends in China and it is very difficult to see them struggling through this tragic event. We have already begun the process of reaching out to relief aid agencies and have pledged our financial support to assisting those who have been devastated by this catastrophic event. I know Yao Ming is fully committed to helping the people of China recover from this horrific experience and I will help him in any way I can.”