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Page last updated at 08:58 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 09:58 UK

Yao Ming to carry flag for China

Yao Ming in Tiananmen Square
Yao Ming is the NBA's tallest player

Basketball star Yao Ming has been picked to carry the host nation's flag for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday.

The 7ft 6in (2.26 metre) NBA player is one of the best known Chinese athletes globally and very popular at home.

Yao also carried his country's flag at the 2004 Athens Games opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, world tennis number one Roger Federer will celebrate his 27th birthday by carrying the Swiss flag at the Beijing ceremony.

"After serious consideration, we have decided that Yao Ming will be the flag bearer," announced Cui Dalin, the deputy chief of China's Olympic team.

Yao, a centre for the Houston Rockets, is the NBA's tallest player. He carried the Olympic torch through Tiananmen Square on Wednesday.

Matt Slater
Federer, who is due to lose his world number one ranking to Spanish rival Rafael Nadal later this month, said representing his country is a dream come true.

He also carried the Swiss flag at the 2004 Olympics.

"To carry the flag is one of the achievements you only dream about. It was one of the great moments in my career," he said.

After a long winning streak, his career has slumped this year, with losses at the French Open and Wimbledon to Nadal.

see also
Team China: Yao Ming
24 Jul 08 |  Olympics
US hand flag to ex-Sudan refugee
06 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Foster to carry flag for Britain
06 Aug 08 |  Olympics

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