Yao will aim to bring improvements to all aspects of the game, from the grassroots to the professional ranks and the national teams.
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When he was unveiled as the ambassador, Yao spoke about the opportunity to stage the event and stressed the truly global nature of the event. The 32 teams, obviously the competition, will be much more competitive than one decade ago. There will be more representatives from Europe, from Africa, from Asia too, and more opportunities for more elite players to compete in their dream and I'm looking forward to seeing it.
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I remember seeing the ads that Jackie Chan did about saving tigers. Jackie was a hero to my generation, and those ads made a big impact on me. We've made real progress: shark fin sales are down in China's main market by percent. I hope we can do the same thing for ivory and rhino horn.
Yao, who was in Bengaluru for a women's tournament stayed at The Ritz - Carlton, Bangalore.
Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, offers additional insight to the issue. But it's still sold on the black market as both an aphrodisiac and a fever reducer. The real problem is in Vietnam, which is now the principal market for rhino horn.
Cancer diagnoses have increased in the country, and there is a shortage of radiotherapy machines. Rhino horn is being marketed as a cancer cure, so a rhino still ends up dead for its horn. It's amazing the powers to which people ascribe what is essentially the same substance found in powdered fingernails," Knights continues.
We obviously have our work cut out for us.
Knights is encouraged by the headway Yao has made against shark finning. We think Yao can do the same for elephants and rhinos.
Now that Yao is "stepping up to help reduce consumer demand for ivory and rhino horn, China and other governments can also be heroes by enacting stricter bans and doing a better job funding demand reduction efforts. Yao hopes that viewers "will watch it and understand how critical it is that we put an end to the ivory trade. We all share this planet with each other and with these majestic animals.
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We all have a responsibility to do something to save Africa's elephants and rhinos. I hope I can use my celebrity to convince more people in China and the United States to be ivory-free so the market and the demand for ivory and rhino horn disappear. We all have to do our part, and I'm trying to do mine. These are not only amazing creatures; they also are an important part of Africa's ecosystem. It's tragic that these animals are among the last of their kind and are being killed for no good reason.