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May 30, 2017

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Sports stars support Taiwan Special Olympics

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Former National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star center Yao Ming (姚明) and legendary Japanese soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata visited a special education school in New Taipei yesterday as part of their scheduled efforts to help raise funding for Taiwan's Special Olympics national team.

The 2.26-meter tall former NBA player — one of China's best-known athletes — together with the retired Nakata, one of the most famous Asian soccer players of his generation, paid a visit to New Taipei Municipal Special School in Linkuo yesterday to serve as special guests and tip-off a basketball game played by mentally challenged students.

According to Wu Shu-ying (吳琇瑩), secretary-general of Special Olympics Chinese Taipei, the two megastars were in Taipei to raise money for Taiwan's Special Olympics national team.

Both Yao and Nakata are global ambassadors for the Special Olympics, an international sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, Wu said.

The two were also scheduled to participate in a fundraiser yesterday evening in Taipei that was attended by local celebrities and raised funds for Taiwan's Special Olympic team.

Wu said her association hopes to raise enough money to financially support Taiwanese Special Olympics athletes and allow them to participate in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Los Angeles.

Yao, 33, was drafted by the Houston Rockets in 2002. The eight-time NBA All-Star racked up an average of 19 points and 9.2 rebounds over the eight seasons he played for Houston, before announcing his retirement in the summer of 2011.

Nakata, 37, began his professional career in 1995 and won the Asian Football Confederation Player of the Year award in 1997 and 1998. He retired in 2006 at age 29 after a 10-year career that included seven seasons in the Italian Serie A and a season in the English Premier League.

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