China TV drops NBA exhibition games; league defends free speech

Chinese state television said on Tuesday it would not air NBA exhibition games played in the country this week, heaping pressure on the U.S. basketball league after a tweet by a Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey backing protests in Hong Kong.

Morey deleted the tweet and apologized, but China’s government, fans and the team’s partners were not mollified, resulting in loss of sponsors and broadcasts in the world’s second-largest economy and an important National Basketball Association (NBA) market.

However, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke up for freedom of speech saying it was not up to the NBA to regulate what players, employees and team owners said, nor to adjudicate differences between people around the world.

Against the pressure Chinese companies boycotts, and nearly 500 million Chinese NBA fans, Commissioner Silver stands strong, saying “It is inevitable that people around the world – including from America and China – will have different viewpoints over different issues,” “It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.” “As a league we are not willing to compromise those values,”

Source: Reuters

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