Tag Archives: China

Yao Ming and Michael Phelps Help Raise Big Funds at Mission Hills Pro-Am

World Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament Raises US$500,000 for Yao Ming and UNICEF

Mission Hills Group, one of China’s leading golf and tourism operators, announced that the 2012 Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am has raised a total of US$500,000 for the tournament’s charitable partners — Yao Ming and UNICEF.

Some of the biggest names in Hollywood and the international sports scene descended on the tropical island of Hainan in southern China for the three day spectacular.

Billed as ‘China’s top entertainment event of the year,’ Celebs in attendance included: Yao Ming, Michael Phelps, Ronaldo, Stephen Hendry, Pat Cash, Andy Garcia, Adrien Brody, Ryan Reynolds, Minka Kelly, Matt Kuchar, Darren Clarke, Michael Campbell, Simon Dyson, Ian Woosnan, and Tony Jacklin.


Commenting on the donation, former NBA star Yao Ming said, “I’m extremely grateful to Mission Hills and everybody involved with this fantastic event for making this donation. We’ll continue to improve the lives of children both in China and the US and these funds will go directly towards projects we’ve got underway in these countries.” (Yao even received a custom-made golf club for the event) Continue reading

Yao Ming Retires With Promise of Continuing Charity Work

Yao Ming Retires With Promise of Continuing Charity Work

“I am ending my athletic career and am retiring from basketball,” Yao said through an interpreter at a plush Pudong hotel on Wednesday. “Basketball has given me so much. It has led me to a bigger and brighter stage to showcase my abilities…with a well-functioned Yao Foundation, I’ll try to promote charity work not only in my circle of friends but also for the whole society, to help more people. I’m very thankful for what life has taught me…To live a better life is the best way to say thanks, I think.”

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On August 2, 2008, I wrote about an interview ESPN did with Yao and Dikembe, in part I quoted Yao about his inspiration:
“ What inspires me are the stories that have come out. There is a picture on a website of a teacher who, when the earthquake was happening, put four kids under a table and put his body on top of the table. When the school wall came down, the teacher died but the kids were saved. You can’t stay away when you hear stories like that. When my foundation raises the money to rebuild those schools, we’re going to name the schools after those teachers.”

Here’s another favorite about how the NBA cut Yao’s Foundation out of the charity loop in 2009, with Yao’s response being: “I know, it’s all about 2010, they (NBA) have rules. All we want to do is help people who were hurt by the earthquake in the Sichuan Province.”

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No doubt, Yao Ming will have plenty of time to use ‘the bigger stage’ to continue his humanitarian work. Unencumbered by the long-arm of the NBA law, Yao can only flourish in his efforts. There will never be another player who so effectively bridged the hoops gap between China and the US. Even his fans have started a ‘movement’ to convince the Huston Rockets to build a bronze statute of Yao.

    Inspired by monument of retired NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon in front of the main entrance to the Toyota Center, home arena of the Rockets, Yao’s fans have suggested the Rockets give the same treatment to the Chinese player. “We will collect signatures among Chinese fans and write a petition letter to the Rockets,” Huang said. “Probably we will do fundraising events for a Yao statue.”’(China Daily)

And of course, the best part of Yao’s retirement is his promise to continue his charity work:

“I will keep devoting myself to social charity work…the Yao Foundation, launched three years ago, is a project named after me. I promise here that it will keep going on,” said Yao. The Yao Foundation has built 16 basketball courts and has donated millions of dollars to build schools around China. “With a well-functioned Yao Foundation, I’ll try to promote charity work not only in my circle of friends but also for the whole society, to help more people. I’m very thankful for what life has taught me…To live a better life is the best way to say thanks, I think.”

Yao has donated earthquake victims…is a Goodwill Ambassador of the international wildlife conservation organization “WildAid”…represents China’s AIDS Prevention Campaign and the NBA’s “Basketball Without Borders” and “Read to Achieve” programs and promotes bone marrow donation. (Yao Ming Foundation)

I really don’t know what to say aside from thank you Yao Ming….thank you for being an exceptional role model, a wicked baller when you played, and a cultural icon whose legacy will inspire for generations.

As always, thanks for reading~
delinda@athlebrities.com

Carmelo Anthony in Taiwan

Carmelo Anthony in Taiwan
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“I’m pretty sure the fans here are all as loud and crazy as fans in Denver,” said Melo.

The Indiana Pacers were victorious over my Melo and the Denver Nuggets in the first NBA preseason game ever played in Taiwan…but you all know I don’t really concern myself with stats and scores unless its for the greater good…after a bit of scouring, I found some love hidden between the games…

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Pacer Danny Granger, Sean Lien, NBA Commissioner David Stern, Hank Du, NBA China CEO Tim Chen and new Nugget Chauncey Billups presented a check at halftime…from what I gather its an NBA Cares donation, but as usual, this isn’t something that garners headlines and therefore lack of info is scarce…

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More importantly, Carmelo Anthony took the time-to deliver some love to a Make-A-Wish kid…which doesn’t surprise me. The fans adore Melo in China and he always stops to smell the roses when he’s overseas. Now only if I can get him here to grant my wish…

As always, thanks for reading. Delinda@athlebrities.com

Usain Bolts To Second Gold While NBA Legends Gather for Charity and Current NBA Players Lured to Europe

USAIN BOLTS THROUGH MY HEART

“We have the best coffee on the planet. We have Bob Marley. And now we have Usain Bolt. We are overjoyed and overwhelmed” – Jamaican Minister of Information, Culture, Youth & Sports Olivia Grange. Usain Bolt broke former U.S. sprinter Michael Johnson’s 12-year-old world record in the 200m, and became the first Olympian since Carl Lewis at the ’84 L.A. Games to win both the 100m and 200m races…add a World Record to the mix and hopes for a third gold in the 4×100 relay on Friday and we got us a great story…

Bolt gave us one of the most genuine and unfiltered celebratory reactions- laying on the track, kissing it, taking off his Puma’s, smiling, infectious, worthy…so why we gotta hear negative reaction from that the president of the IOC, Jacques Rogge? “That’s not the way we perceive being a champion,” Rogge said of the Jamaican sprinter. “I have no problem with him doing a show. I think he should show more respect for his competitors and shake hands, give a tap on the shoulder to the other ones immediately after the finish and not make gestures like the one he made in the 100 meters.” Excuse my language kids- but Rogge can f*ck off. Rogge: corrupt, bought, angry and transparent. Do your research, I ain’t gonna waste any more space on his nonsense, because I think he may be the only person in the World who wasn’t jubilating alongside Bolt as he won, when he won, and while he was celebrating with an attitude we need to see more of…pure joy. Get number three Bolt, the world is watching…

Also watching are sponsor Puma and Virgin Media (U.K.). Virgin has asked Bolt to be the “face of its superfast broadband service,” according to Mark Sweney of the Manchester GUARDIAN. VM, which is set to launch a broadband product it claims will be more than twice as fast as rivals, is considering calling the product ‘Boltband.’

THANK YOU SZYMON KOLECKI
Joey Cheek, Team Darfur co-Founder, in an e-mail to the AP writes, “I would love to see even more athletes involved in speaking out about what they believe in. The problem is that even if there was an athlete that wanted to speak out on issues of human rights, he might be silenced by whatever IOC official is mediating that press event, with a bogus explanation that is my biggest problem with these Olympics: the idea that the Games are only about sport.” Cheek continued, “Every time the Chinese government has gone back on guarantees of free speech, free access for the media, and a number of the other issues, the IOC has acquiesced.” The Chinese have “done many amazing things, and for that they deserve a lot of credit.” Cheek: “However, these Games still would have been as successful without what appears to be massive suppression of any voice that the government doesn’t want heard” (AP, 8/20).

At least one athlete has ‘spoken’ out…Polish pro-Tibet activist group ‘The Other Space Foundation’ said Poland weightlifter Symon Kolecki ‘shaved his head in a gesture of solidarity with Tibetan monks’ before receiving the Silver Medal in his event. Kolecki after the medal ceremony told Polish sports magazine Sportfan, “This haircut is from this morning. I can’t directly say why I did it. It’s connected with certain things that the Olympic Charter forbids. But I will say that it’s symbolic.” Thank you Symon, but be careful…The WASHINGTON POST’s Sally Jenkins, in an online chat, wrote the Beijing Games will “go down with a terribly mixed legacy. This morning the Chinese government sentenced two women who are nearly 80 years old to a year each in reeducation camp, because they filed for permits to officially protest the destruction of their homes at an official Olympic demonstration site.”


And you ain’t gonna see any Apples in China either…Apple’s iTunes music store has been blocked in China, allegedly due to athletes listening to protest songs. It all started when more than 40 athletes downloaded “Songs for Tibet,” an album produced by U.S.-based Tibet group the Art of Peace Foundation. The foundation offered the album for free download to Olympic athletes, but China has since turned off the iTunes music store.

NBA ATHLETES: LEGENDS AND LEGENDS TO BE

“I’ve been on TNT for years, and no one’s ever asked me, ‘Who won the championship in Greece last year?’” – TNT’s Charles Barkley, on Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Heat G Dwyane Wade saying they would entertain offers to play overseas…maybe when these guys ARE playing in Europe you’ll be asked who won? Yes, our babies are jumping ship. And while I don’t expect to see Wade wearing a Greek jersey or Kobe donning an Italian one anytime soon, others are opting to play for Europeans teams. The most recent NBA players to jump the NBA ship for the Euro gold are…Former Phoenix Suns guard Gordon Giricek signed with a Turkish team…New Orleans (sixth man) guard Jannero Pargo will play in Moscow for 3.8 million…former Charlotte Bobcats guard Earl Boykins will be the highest-paid player in the Italian league…Carlos Arroyo, who played for Orlando, signed to play in Israel…Former Raptors Jorge Garbajosa and Carlos Delfino are headed for Russia, as is ex-New Jersey Nets forward Bostian Ncahbar…and Juan Carlos Navarro of the Memphis Grizzlies signed with a Barcelona team…but don’t worry about it Charles, no one is paying attention to the situation yet.

NBA LEGENDS HELPING KIDS HEAR
Last month while at Chris Webbers Bada Bling, I was fortunate to meet several NBA Legends who shared their ideas of a NBA Legends Resort that was in the works to be built. And this weekend I’m willing to bet that some of the Legends will be discussing the idea as they converge for a ‘Reunion Extravaganza’ in Puerto Rico to highlight their community outreach program. Hot Legends such as Moses Malone, Rick Barry, Chuck Person, Michael Ray Richardson and many more, wil be taking part in the group’s “Project Smile” community initiative with the Starkey Hearing Foundation…nearly 200 basketball greats will be descending on The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan Hotel, Resort & Spa in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico, on Aug. 21-24 for the anticipated National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) Legends Reunion…dear god, where’s my plane ticket?

‘Project Smile’ is a year-round program that aims to raise the spirits, bring hope, and deliver smiles to men, women and children worldwide. In partnership with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, the NBRPA will change the lives of 250 hearing impaired and underprivileged Puerto kids by providing them with hearing aids on Saturday, Aug 23 at the Teatro de la Universidad Interamericana, Rio Piedras Campus. A press ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. featuring Legends Earl Monroe, Spencer Haywood, Buck Williams, David Thompson, Tim Legler, Mark Eaton, Charles Smith and others. The Legends will distribute Webster’s Spanish/English Dictionaries to the children and I can’t believe I can’t find one sponsor willing to send me there…


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As always, thanks for reading.
Delinda Lombardo
delinda@athlebrities.com

Spain’s Women’s Basketball Team Also Posed ‘Slant Eyed’

SPAIN BASKETBALL TEAM ADS: MEN’S and WOMEN’S
We’re surprised by the remarks of racism,” said Juan Antonio Villanueva, the communications director for the city’s 2016 Olympic bid. “Spain is not a racist country — quite the opposite.”

Players on Spain’s Olympic basketball team are stepping up to defend the ad showing them using their fingers to apparently make their eyes look more Chinese. “It was something like supposed to be funny or something but never offensive in any way,” said Spain center Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers). “I’m sorry if anybody thought or took it the wrong way and thought that it was offensive.” Point guard Jose Manuel Calderon (Toronto Raptors) said the team was responding to a request from the photographer. “We felt it was something appropriate, and that it would be interpreted as an affectionate gesture,” Calderon said, “Without a doubt, some … press didn’t see it that way.”

SPAINS WOMENS BASKETBALL TEAM PHOTO: ON YES THEY DID

And now, we’ll have to wait and see how the world responds to the newly surfaced “ad” of Spain’s Women’s Basketball Team in the same pose.


Spain, as we know, has a bit of a racist reputation…Lewis Hamilton bore the brunt of it in Barcelona last February, as did Thierry Henry, and England’s ‘black’ players during a friendly in 2004 against Spain when Spanish fans taunted the players with “monkey sounds”.


Now, I’d like to think that something is lost in translation here. Advertising in Europe is a bit edgier than here in the States. Ever heard of ‘P*ssy’ Water? Pretty sure there would be a bit of controversy if it were released in the States. Most Euro advertising falls well outside our comfort zone. Most adverts outside of Spain are not so much ‘racist’ as they are ‘shocking’ to some. However, regardless of what Spain’s’ ‘intentions’ were with their basketball ads, I think with their history of offending some of the world’s top athletes, as well as most people living outside of their ‘culture’, that its entirely fair to label them as “racist’…


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As always, thanks for reading.
Delinda Lombardo
delinda@athlebrities.com

It’s Still the Dream Team in Most Parts of the World

SWEET DREAMS

We’ve been hearing about the ‘globalization of the NBA’ for a few years but it hasn’t been until recently that some of our babies have started jumping ship to chase the Euro dollar and capitalize on their international popularity. I say more power to ya boys. If I were one of the powers-that-be at the NBA offices (cough-cough Stern), I would be shaking in my boots. The likelihood of NBA ‘globalization’ isnt really very likely…but a mini-exodus of our ballers is going to happen. Who wouldn’t want to play and live in a European nation that adores you, pays you an obscene amount of money and has much more lax rules than the Ennnn-Beeee-Ayyyy?

Kobe Bryant mobbed in ChinaKobe Bryant mobbed in China
The movement of players to Europe got a major jump-start recently when Atlanta Hawk Josh Childress signed a 3-year $20M deal with Greece. And now we’ve even got Sweet Melon and the Black Mamba entertaining the idea…or at least teasing us with it. Kobe Bryant told the Boston Globe that he would consider a $50 million offer to play in Europe. “As players, the business of the game (is) evolving,” Bryant said. “I think free agency now is becoming a global thing…When players become free agents, the team they’re currently with – their competition is no longer the rest of the teams in the NBA. But it’s global. So, the market’s opened up. So we’ll just have to see how the league responds to it.”

chinese stalkers carmelo anthony-you go girl!
And what is swirling through the mind of my precious Carmelo Anthony. Is he gonna grab his family, ditch the States and capitalize on the NBA frenzy that has most of Europe spellbound? “If someone wants to throw $50 million on the table for me,” he said, chuckling, “we can talk.” Aside from the less stringent rules of the NBA, the appeal of playing hoops overseas has pa-lenty of perks. I don’t think I need to spell out what life in Greece would be like for an NBA player…or life in Italy? But we are certainly seeing what life in China would be like for some of our babes.


Take for example…um, I dunno…Carmelo Anthony? Mad props to the Chinese volunteers who swarmed the boys during a press conference. Great article in the Washington Post, which in part explains the feeding frenzy: ‘Then the players dispersed to individual stages around the room, and madness ensued. Half the crowd consisted of journalists attempting to interview pro basketball players. The other half consisted of volunteers attempting to take and/or pose for pictures with pro basketball players. Dozens–if not hundreds–roamed the room seeking autographs, with sharpies and everything.’ “They told us we can’t do that,” Dwight Howard said, as one autograph seeker interrupted his interview.


Speaking of ‘peace’…last month, NBA good-guys (and a gal) attended the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Maine. The 7th annual ‘Play for Peace’ clinic was attended by Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls), Brook Lopez (NJ Nets), Robin Lopez (Phoenix Suns), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City), DJ Augustin (Charlotte Bobcats), Anthony Randolph (Golden State Warriors), with NBA ‘Play for Peace’ veterans Brian Scalabrine (Boston Celtics), Jordan Farmar (LA Lakers), and former WNBA star Sue Wicks (NY Liberty). Bulls great BJ Armstrong helped to lead the clinic. 160 Egyptian, Jordanian, Israeli, Palestinian and American kids warmly greeted the ‘peace-playas’ who were delighted to participate in the camp’s second session, which focused on the Arab – Israeli conflict. The camp’s goal is to get youngsters to interact and understand the viewpoint of those on the opposite side. Vists Seeds of Peace for more info.


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As always, thanks for reading.
Delinda Lombardo
delinda@athlebrities.com

The Olympic Oath, Darfur and Joey Cheek

HUMAN RIGHTS TRUMP ATHLETIC COMPETITION

    In the name of all competitors
    I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic games,
    respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them,
    in the true spirit of sportsmanship,
    for the glory of the sport and the honor of our teams

The Olympics. 8.08.08. Opening ceremonies are just a few days away and it looks like a few brain-cells in President Bush’s head have finally realized that something funny is going on with China. Armed with “deep concerns” about the state of human rights in China, Bush is urging the communist nation to allow political freedoms for its citizens, “We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labor rights — not to antagonize China’s leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential.” In an interview aboard Air Force One with The Washington Post, Bush said it was “really hard to tell” whether human rights in China had improved over the past eight years. “I’m fired up to go. I can’t wait to salute our athletes, and I can’t wait to share in the joy of your triumphs,” he said. Huh?


I certainly will be watching the Olympics, but not without a heavy weight and dark cloud marring my view. I will cheer for all athletes, from all countries who have trained hard for this moment. But I will most certainly be keeping an ear out for those who take this opportunity to speak their mind about China’s abhorrent treatment of its citizens, the media and it’s involvement with the genocide in Darfur. I don’t think it comes as any surprise that Olympic gold medallist and outspoken Darfur activist Joey Cheek has had his visa revoked by the Chinese embassy hours before the speed skating beast was set to fly to China. As the founder of Team Darfur, Cheek has had a target on his back since its inception.

    “I am saddened not to be able to attend the Games. The Olympic Games represent something powerful: that people can come together from around the world and do things that no one thought were possible. However, the denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur.”


The cash-strapped (at the time) Cheek ‘had me’ after he brought home the gold from Torino and promptly donated his $25,000 bonus to Darfur while begging his sponsors to do the same. I’m not asking anyone to ignore the spirit of competition or the thrill of victory, and neither is Cheek. Why is it that if we speak out against China and Darfur we are suddenly “anti-Olympics”? I don’t support our “war” but at the same time I do support our troops. Yes people, there is room for both.


As mentioned, I will be watching the Olympics. But, in my opinion, human rights trump sports. Simple as that. Imagine if you were one of the displaced children who witnessed your mother being raped and your father being hacked to pieces…imagine being that child-hiding, crammed into a shanty-hut with forty other people trying to escape the genocide…imagine if there was a small TV hooked-up and your only escape from the daily horrors of your reality was the static of the games coming through on the TV…and with the whole world watching, it takes just one Olympic athlete to issue a few words of hope about ending the genocide…about helping a country desperately calling for aid…a few simple words can give someone hope…hope for help, hope for a better life, hope that people care, hope that your suffering isnt being ignored, hope that one day it will all end. That’s what its all about. We don’t have to ignore any athletic accomplishment, we don’t have to ban Joey Cheek from skating or duct tape someone’s mouth shut because they may something bad about China that we already know. We only need to care. And for me, I care a hell of a lot more about stopping the horrific war crimes being committed than I do about who brings home the medal. So yes, I will be watching the games on my plasma TV inside my comfortable home surrounded by the daily comforts we take for granted. But there won’t be one single moment when I’m not thinking about those who need our help and have bigger things to worry about than who wins what where.

Lets enjoy the games but lets not use this as an excuse to escape from the realities of Darfur. We can’t stop and we can’t ignore humanity until the last machete is torn from the hands of a rebel.
Help Save Darfur.


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As always, thanks for reading.
Delinda Lombardo
delinda@athlebrities.com

Europe’s All Star Village, Steven Spielberg Statement About China, Lunch with a Hottie, New Speedo.

THE VILLAGE: MECCA
Nestled just one mile from Estepona on the Southern Coast of Spain is a very special Village that seems to be resting at the end of a rainbow. Billed as Europe’s All Star Resort, the Village is nothing short of spectacular. The development is complete with apartments, 36 holes of championship golf, 3 swimming pools, 2 luxury spas, its own football academy and hotel.
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But what makes its so special? It has the (gulp) official endorsement of 12 leading UK football clubs including Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Celtic, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, and others. Hotties have already began buying apartment for themselves there, as well as the teams-who have reserved apartments which are on sale exclusively to their fan base. The clubs receive a percentage from each sale, so fans purchasing an apartment know a portion of the money they pay goes back into their club. Among the hotties who could be your neighbor at The Village? Paul Robinson, David Bentley, Roberto Carlos, Iker Casillas (R), Raul, golf legend Steve Ballesteros, and our Spanish-treat Rafael Nadal.

LUNCH ANYONE
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We got some hotties donating their time to help keep the kids in school. Current and former Super Bowl champions New York Giants’ Antonio Pierce (L) and Seattle Seahawks’ Shaun Alexander; and NASCAR driver Scott Riggs are just a few of the top babes in sports to be sent to the auction block for the sixth annual Lunch With A Leader auction. The online auction, which runs February 8 – 18 on eBay, benefits Communities In Schools, Inc., the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization. In addition to eating lunch across the table from one of these athlebrities, (after passing a background check of course) the winning Antonio Pierce bidder also gets a trip to the Giants’ training camp for practice.

SPEEDO
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Aqualab spent three years of intensive reaserch…Speedo scanned the bodies of more than 400 elite swimmers…held technical tests involving more than 100 different fabrics…and the results are sensational. The Speedo LXR Racer is the world’s first fully bonded swimsuit-ultrasonically welded to give the effect of no seams at all…ultra low drag LZR panels are embedded into the base fabric to create a Hydro Form Compression System which compresses the swimmer’s entire body into a more streamlined shape, enabling them to cut through the water with more power and agility…it has a corset-like grip, and independent testing has shown it to be the world’s fastest swimsuit. “When I hit the water, I feel like a rocket,” said Michael Phelps, holder of six World Records. Phelps, who has been involved in the suit’s development, will be sporting the LZR as he sets out to achieve a record-setting eight gold medals later this year. “I can’t wait to race in it – this is going to take the sport of swimming to a new level.” Also involved with the design was Comme des Garcons founder Rei Kawakubo. In a perfect blend of high-fashion-meets-athletic wear, Kawakubo added a design on the side panel of the suit incorporates the character “kokoro” meaning Heart, Mind, Spirit.

MIGHTY-MIGHTY GOOD MAN
At least 200,000 people have been killed and two million forced from their homes in the five-year conflict in Darfur. And yesterday, director Steven Spielberg issued a statement formally announcing the end of his role as artistic adviser for the opening and closing ceremonies of the ’08 Beijing Olympics. Here is his statement, in its entirety:

“After careful consideration, I have decided to formally announce the end of my involvement as one of the overseas artistic advisors to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games. In anticipation that this day might one day come, I left unsigned the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games contract presented to me nearly a year ago. Since that time, I have made repeated efforts to encourage the Chinese government to use its unique influence to bring safety and stability to the Darfur region of Sudan. Although some progress has been made along the way, most notably, the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769, the situation in Darfur continues to worsen and the violence continues to accelerate.”
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“With this in mind, I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual. At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur. Sudan’s government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these on-going crimes but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering there. China’s economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan continue to provide it with the opportunity and obligation to press for change.”
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“The situation has never been more precarious – and while China’s representatives have conveyed to me that they are working to end the terrible tragedy in Darfur, the grim realities of the suffering continue unabated. This has been a very difficult decision for me, as I have cherished the relationships with my Chinese counterparts, in particular, the noted director Zhang Yimou, who is a close personal friend. I have learned a great deal from working with him and all the other creative artists along the way. There is little that is more rewarding than to collaborate with those who bring vision and imagination to a challenging artistic task. And I greatly appreciated the spirit in which we worked together – a spirit that embodied genuine friendship and respect.”
“For me, the Olympic Games represent an ideal of brotherhood designed to bridge cultural and political divides. I am committed to building bridges between peoples and I saw, and continue to see, the Beijing Games as an opportunity to help ease some of the tensions in the world. China has much to offer the world and I have no doubt that its international contributions will grow in the years ahead. With growing influence, however, also comes growing responsibilities. As China welcomes the world to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, I hope to be among those in attendance; and it is also my great hope that, with renewed and intensified efforts from China, there will be peace and security in Darfur at last.”

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As always, thanks for reading.
delinda@athlebrities.