BEIJING -- Yao Ming has a big heart too.
The 7-foot-6-inch NBA star, who is recovering from a broken foot in the United States, has donated 2 million yuan (US$285,000) to the earthquake-stricken areas in southwest China.
"It's hard to express my sadness at the sight of the destroyed homes and an increasing death toll," said Yao, who himself faces a race to be fit to lead China at the Beijing Olympics in August.
Yao called upon the whole world to join in the relief efforts.
The Houston Rockets center is the most famous sport star in China. The other athlete who could match his fame is Liu Xiang, the world and Olympic 110m hurdles champion.
Liu and his coach Sun Haiping donated 500,000 yuan (about US$71,000) at a donation drive launched Wednesday by China's sport governing body.
The deep sadness over the sudden calamity has hit all the Chinese people, including the Chinese athletes, said Liu Xiang.
"Although we cannot go there to help earthquake victims, we will do our part in the relief effort," Liu said.
China's State General Administration of Sport and the Chinese Olympic Committee have donated 5 million yuan (US$714,000) and called on the sport field to contribute to the relief efforts.
"It's time for the sport circle to return the support from the country and the people who stand behind each achievement we have got," the Chinese sports chief.
Chinese national teams responded quickly.
The table tennis team offered 980,000 yuan (140,000 U.S. dollars) and the gymnastics squad gathered one million yuan (US142,800).
"We were shocked when we heard the news on Monday," said Olympic champion Li Xiaopeng on the sideline of the gymnastics World Cup in Tianjin.
The Chinese football association colleted 600,000 yuan (US$85,700) and the Chinese basketball teams donated 400,000 yuan (US570,000) to the quake victims.
The Chinese weightlifting team has begun to raise fund and donate blood to the quake sufferers.
At the same time, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) donated 7million yuan (US$1 million) in relief aid to China's quake-hit areas.
As the Olympic flame was touring Thursday on Jianggangshan Mountains, the relay organizers and torchbearers were heavy-hearted for the deadly quake.
Donation boxes, placed along the 14.5-kilometer route, had collected more than 16 million yuan (US2.28 million) Thursday morning.
As of Thursday, donations of cash and goods totalled 1,344 million yuan (US$about 192 million ) following Monday's 7.8-magnitude quake in Sichuan.
More than 50,000 people are feared dead in Sichuan alone after the earthquake, the rescue headquarters of the State Council said Thursday.