Yao Ming elected chief of Chinese Basketball Association
Yao Ming is elected as the chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association during the association's national congress on Feb 23, 2017. [Photo by Wei Xiaohao/China Daily]
Chinese basketball icon Yao Ming has been elected chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association, the association announced after its national congress on Thursday.
Since January, multiple media outlets have hinted at Yao's involvement in the election, citing a proposal from the General Administration of Sport, the country's top sports governing body, that he be involved in the game's professional reform.
Yao, a former NBA All Star and backbone of the Chinese national team, said after his appointment that he will work hard to lead the reshuffled CBA and push for reform of the game.
“After being regrouped as a full-fledged nongovernmental organization, we have to better study our own situation while learning from overseas expertise to work out our own way to develop the game in China,” he said.
The CBA said in a briefing last month that its new leader would be someone with a professional background, who had made a great contribution to and had knowledge of the game and was held in high regard.
Yao, China's only Basketball Hall of Famer, led the national team to eighth place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has been operating his hometown CBA club Shanghai Sharks as its owner.
Li Yingchuan, assistant director of the administration, said that Yao's election as the new CBA leader will be a major step forward for the management of the game in China.
Observers said earlier that reshuffling the administration's leadership structure and separating professional sports league management from the traditional government-run system will help improve decision-making, as well as enhancing independence and transparency.
Former CBA leaders, including ex-chairman Yu Zaiqing, were appointed by the administration from within its own ranks.