Yao Ming says he remains on schedule to play in a couple of exhibition games before China's Olympic opener against the United States on August 10.
"I don't want to push that too much because we need to do that in a safe way, but the Olympics are only 70-some days to go," Yao said.
Yao was expected to be play an ambassador's role this summer as his country prepares to host the Olympics for the first time.
Yao has been busy rehabilitating his left foot after undergoing surgery in March to repair a stress fracture. The injury caused him to miss the final two months of the NBA season.
The Shanghai native began running last week and said he's pain-free. He hopes to begin playing in some light-contact basketball scrimmages in a couple of weeks.
The earthquake tragedy has tempered China's nationwide celebration.
The Olympic torch relay was halted briefly and shortened, and Yao is particularly concerned about the thousands of schools that were damaged or destroyed.
"No. 1 right now is to save people's lives," Yao said. "On May 12 people forgot about the Olympics. People forgot about the torch. Let's focus the government and the people on saving as many lives as we can.
"We still lost a lot. We will limit the celebration a little bit because of those we lost."
(Agencies via Shanghai Daily May 27, 2008)