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Top Olympic Athlete Yao Ming Becomes UNEP's First Environmental Champion
09/ 08/ 2008

Top Olympic Athlete Yao Ming Becomes UNEP's First Environmental ChampionBeijing, 9 August 2008-Top Olympic athlete Yao Ming is the UN Environment Programme's first-ever Environmental Champion, UNEP announced today.

Basketball megastar Yao Ming, who plays for the National Basketball Association (NBA) and for China's Olympic team, is one of the most famous athletes in the world today. He is a national icon in China and carried the Olympic Flame into Tiananmen Square on 6 August, as well as being his country's flag-bearer at the Opening Ceremony.

"I am delighted and greatly honored to accept the UN Environment Programme's offer to become their first ever 'Environmental Champion'", Yao Ming said. "In my role as Environmental Champion, I will work with governments, the private sector and the public to promote good and effective management of our environment so we can preserve the planet for future generations."

Yao Ming said he will work with young people across the world and try to inspire them to plant trees, use energy efficient light bulbs, harvest rain water and to become environmental champions in their own communities.

"I welcome Yao Ming to our team," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, who is in Beijing for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. "As one of the most high profile athletes in these Games and with a fan base of millions across the world, I am sure he can help us raise public awareness on the environment and Climate Change issues. I look forward to working closely with Yao Ming and wish him and all other athletes the very best for the Games."


STATEMENT FROM CHINESE AND NBA BASKETBALL STAR YAO MING ACCEPTING UNEP'S OFFER TO BECOME THEIR FIRST EVER ENVIRONMENTAL CHAMPION:

"I am delighted and greatly honored to accept the UN Environment Programme's offer to become their first ever 'Environmental Champion'.

In my role as 'Environmental Champion', I will work with governments, the private sector and the public to promote good and effective management of our environment so we can preserve the planet for future generations.

As a sportsman, I believe sport has a major role to play in promoting environmental issues so I will work with young people across the world and try to inspire them to plant trees, use energy efficient light bulbs, harvest rain water and to become environmental champions in their own communities.

As the world celebrates the Beijing Olympic Games, I would also like to call upon the organizers of all major sports events in the world to make sure they use public transport facilities, build proper waste management systems and use greener forms of energy.

I sincerely believe small actions done by many over a long period of time can really bring about positive change.

By doing a little now we can avoid doing a lot later.

Please join me in this global team effort."

For more information please contact:
Satinder Bindra, UNEP Director of Communications in Beijing on: +86-13501216280
Theodore Oben, UNEP Chief of Sports & the Environment in Beijing on:
+86-13501210290
Or Anne-France White, UNEP Associate Information Officer, on: +254 (0)728 600 494

Further Resources
Biography of Yao Ming
The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 8-24
UNEP and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games