【英语新闻】Yao Ming elected as president of Chinese Basketball Association

Yao Ming, the poster boy of Chinese basketball, was elected chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) on Thursday, where he was expected to lead a top-down reform of the system amid mounting unease among local fans about the sport’s management in China.

Yao was elected to the office by CBA representatives during a meeting on Thursday morning in Beijing. The meeting was initially scheduled for March and no official explanation was given for the rescheduling.

“The new managing team (of CBA) will not fail people’s expectations and support”, Yao said after his election.

The 36-year-old left the court in 2011 but never fully withdrew from the sport. Now the owner of a basketball club in the Chinese league, he also helped found CBA Company, which aspires to further commercialize the Chinese basketball championship.

Yao’s election was viewed by many as unsurprising after China’s top sport bureau explicitly backed the former NBA star.

China's Basketball Pioneers newspaper revealed in January that Gou Zhongwen, the chief of China’s General Administration of Sport, had floated support to Yao as “the head of China’s Basketball Association (CBA) as well as the national team’s coach.”

“Yao is the best candidate for the top job at the CBA considering his rich experience of playing in the US which helped widen his horizons,” the newspaper applauded in its report, noting that the proposal was among Gou’s “10 instructions” concerning reforms of the sport’s administration.

News of Yao's election comes as the memory of the Chinese men's basketball team’s humiliating trip to Rio is still fresh in fans' minds. Of the five games the team played during the 2016 Summer Olympics last August, it won none. The poor performance upset Chinese fans, who often direct their anger at what they view as “inefficient and unprofessional” management.

With his full-range experience as a player, a club owner and a manager of a firm that participates in the operation of the professional championship, Yao is expected to bring new momentum to reforms of the sport’s management in China.

The reforms are backed directly by the “top brass” of China’s central government, according to China National Radio (CNR). High-level officials have praised Yao’s international influence as an asset that should not be wasted, CNR reported.

Observers speculate that Yao’s task as chairman will be to transform the CBA from a semi-government office - which stands in the way of its full commercialization - into an independent non-government entity.

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