China Blacks Out Celtics After NBA Player's Tibet Comments

Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter talks with reporters at National Basketball Players Association headquarters in New York, May 22, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

Tencent, a Chinese broadcaster and NBA partner, is not displaying current or archival Boston Celtics games on its platforms, ostensibly in response to Celtics center Enes Kanter's pro-Tibet independence sentiments.

Kanter also referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a "dictator." in a series of social media posts. Kanter sat out Boston's 138-134 season-opening loss to New York on Wednesday night. The game was not broadcast on the streaming services that usually broadcast most NBA games in China to millions of people.

The NBA has yet to respond.

The NBA did not respond immediately, and the Celtics did not practice on Thursday. It was also unclear how long Tencent's decision not to broadcast the Celtics would persist.

During Wednesday night's game, Kanter wore shoes with "Free Tibet" inscribed on them. "More than 150 Tibetans have committed suicide by burning themselves alive in the hopes of raising awareness about Tibet. I support my Tibetan brothers and sisters in their fight for independence "He expressed himself on Twitter.

Since October 2019, when then-Houston general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in favor of government demonstrators in Hong Kong, the league's relationship with China has been strained, resulting in what has virtually become a blackout for the league in the world's most populous nation.

Last season, the Sixers were blacked out

Except for two games during the 2020 NBA Finals, NBA games were eventually reintroduced to Tencent's roster but not to CCTV's. Last season, Morey's first with the 76ers, Tencent did not offer the team's games.

When asked about Kanter's postings, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin commented, "The player you mentioned was clout-chasing, trying to get attention with Tibet-related issues," "His wrong remarks are not worth refuting."

China's Communist leaders are particularly sensitive to what they perceive to be foreign meddling in domestic politics. The backlash from Morey's post was massive, and sponsors canceled their support for the NBA China Games between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets days later, following CCTV's lead. According to the NBA, the deteriorating relationship with China and the loss of broadcast rights cost the league $400 million in income in the 2019-20 season alone.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver remarked earlier this week, "It's unclear whether we'll be back on CCTV television in China this year,"

Tweets V Comments

For the time being, the repercussions of Kanter's remarks do not appear to be as severe as the rapid reaction to Morey's tweet, which was promptly deleted. Other NBA games from Wednesday were available on Tencent, as were three games from Thursday's schedule.

Kanter is a Turkish national who has been a vocal critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdoan and the Turkish government. Kanter claims that the Turkish authorities canceled his passport in 2017.

When it comes to connections with China, it's not just the NBA that's having problems. Several organizations have asked the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, among others, to boycott the Beijing Olympics this winter in support of human rights.

The USOPC intends to send entire teams to the February Olympics in China.

"We expect that China is going to be a unique situation to really allow sport to speak for unity and for global peace and for the rights of people around the world," said Susanne Lyons, chair of the USOPC board of directors. "That really is the place where sport can make its stand."

Publish : 2021-10-22 11:16:00

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