BEIJING, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Yao Ming, the seven-foot-six-inch NBA star, will carry China's flag at the Olympic opening ceremony, China Daily said Tuesday
Yao, who plays center for China's national team and for the Houston Rockets, was chosen to lead a Chinese delegation of 407 athletes and 230 coaches and officials at the Friday ceremony, despite arguments from detractors that his conspicuous height might be an eyesore, the paper said.
"He is a man of integrity and has a good sense of humor," delegation official Xiao Tian told the Xinhua News Agency. "He is the perfect one to be the flag-bearer."
China hopes to win 20 gold medals and retain its third-place standing behind the United States and Russia in the Olympic games, China Daily said. Chinese athletes are traditionally strongest in table tennis, badminton, diving and men's gymnastics.