Tension between China and the National Basketball Association (NBA) has resulted in a series of cancelled events including the Brooklyn Nets community event in Shanghai, which should have taken place on Tuesday.
The Nets were expected to make an appearance at the New World Experimental Primary School in Shanghai as part of their Chinese tour, however the event was abruptly cancelled just hours before it was due to start.
Every autumn, the NBA teams travels to China to stage exhibition games as part of a promotional tour which helps to popularize the sport in the country.
This year’s expedition to the Asian region had not been expected to differ from previous journeys until the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, decided to weigh in on the Hong Kong protests.
“Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” he wrote on his Twitter page last Friday sparking outrage in China which immediately blacklisted the team.
The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) along with sponsors and broadcast partners cut ties with the Rockets in reaction to the Twitter post made by Morey.
Chinese billionaire and new Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai said Morey’s tweet was “damaging to the relationship with our fans in China” adding that “the incident will take a long time to repair.”
Large-scale protests and demonstrations have engulfed the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong after an extradition bill allowing suspects to be sent to mainland China was proposed by lawmakers.
In the wake of the scandal triggered by Morey’s tweet the NBA issued its own statement stressing that it was “regrettable” that the social media post had “deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China.”
The league came under attack from politicians and commentators in the US who said the NBA doesn’t support freedom of speech, referring to Morey’s post.
The Nets and Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to play two games in Shanghai and Shenzhen but it is unknown if the games will take place.