Shaq becomes US sports envoy to Cuba

CCTV News

Shaq becomes US sports envoy to Cuba

The retired U.S. basketball legend, Shaquille O’Neal, has a new role. He’s been appointed as President Barack Obama’s sports ambassador, helping strengthen ties between the United States and Cuba.

CCTV America’s Michael Voss reports from Havana.

Shaq becomes US sports envoy to Cuba

Shaq becomes US sports envoy to Cuba

Shaquille O'Neal has been appointed as President Obama's sports ambassador, helping strengthen U.S.-Cuba ties. CCTV America's Michael Voss reports from Havana.

Shaquille O’Neal was surrounded by adoring young fans as he arrived for his first sports clinic in Cuba.

At 7 foot 1 inch, Shaq is one of the most recognizable figures of U.S. basketball.

The appearance of the four-time NBA champion and basketball Hall of Famer is aimed at building on the momentum of U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic March visit to Cuba.

Shaq believes that President Obama has made the right decision to reconnect America with Cuba.

Sport has played an important role in helping bridge the divide between these former Cold War foes.

President Obama joined Cuba’s President Raul Castro to watch an exhibition baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team. Last year the National Basketball Association organized a four-day coaching camp in Cuba before the football match between the two countries.

All of those encounters were organized by their respective sporting authorities. The difference with Shaquille O’Neal is that he is in Cuba on an official government sponsored visit.

According to the U.S. State Department, Shaquille O’Neal, as a sports envoy, “taps into the unique strength of sports-including basketball-to reach out to young people and promote cooperation and engagement in Cuba.”