Tue, Aug 07, 2007 - Page 20 News List

NBA superstar Yao Ming married at Shanghai hotel

AP, BEIJING

Yao Ming, left, and fiancee and fellow basketball player Ye Li in a wedding photo taken in Linan, China, last week.

PHOTO: AFP

NBA star Yao Ming got married at an upmarket Shanghai hotel yesterday in front of 100 relatives, with an equal number of security guards expected to have worked the event, Chinese media reported.

After the ceremony and dinner at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel, the newlyweds and their guests were to cruise the Huangpu River in a luxury houseboat, the Titan sports newspaper reported. The wedding cost more than 1 million yuan (US$130,000), the paper said.

No teammates, coaches or basketball officials were invited to the nuptials, the Beijing Morning Post reported. However, 100 security guards were to attend.

The 2.26m Houston Rockets center and his bride, Ye Li, received their official marriage certificate on Friday. Widely circulated photographs showed the couple in tuxedo and off-the-shoulder gown having their wedding portraits made at a scenic resort in eastern China last week.

Ye, who is 1.9m tall, is a player on China's national women's basketball team.

A Shangri-La Hotel staff member told Oriental Online that Yao's guests would dine on "the best" dishes.

The hotel's most expensive 12-course banquet menu, at 1,240 yuan per plate, features delicacies such as shark's fin, sea cucumber, abalone and giant clams. Dishes boast poetic names like "golden clam and white jade roll," "ten thousand purples, a thousand reds" and "willow branches and sweet dew."

Details of Yao's wedding banquet menu were not known. Last year, he joined a campaign to promote wildlife protection and pledged to give up eating shark's fin soup.

Chinese couples typically enter their wedding banquet through an arch decorated with fresh flowers or balloons, but that decoration will be missing because Yao is too tall, the Jin Ri Morning Paper reported.

The paper also said wedding guests would have special identification tags allowing them to attend the event.

Titan reported that Yao and his bride will go to Beijing today to take part in festivities celebrating the one-year mark until the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games.

While in Beijing, the couple will host a dinner for members of China's men's and women's basketball teams, the Oriental Morning Post reported. Players told the paper they were still trying to figure out what gifts to give Yao and his wife.

Last month, China's official sports association issued an unprecedented public criticism of Yao for reporting late to national team training.

He was faulted for taking too much time off to recover from the NBA season, as well as spending too much time planning his wedding and making appearances for the Beijing Olympics.

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