China broadcasts an NBA game after almost year and a half

Beijing, Mar 30 (EFE).- Chinese state-owned channel CCTV broadcast an NBA game Wednesday for the first time since October 2020, when the North American professional basketball league last aired over a ban following a team manager’s support toward protests in Hong Kong.

At 10 am on Wednesday, Chinese viewers could tune into a game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz.

CCTV has not offered any details of its decision and nor how long the broadcasts will continue.

In a brief statement after the temporary resumption of NBA games in October 2020, CCTV had said it was a “normal” decision owing to the popularity of the sport in China.

A CCTV spokesperson said the NBA had shown its support for the Chinese people in their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic since the beginning of the year.

In early October 2019, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet, later deleted, with an image captioned “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” referencing pro-democracy protests in the territory amid violent clashes between police and some radical protesters.

The tweet sparked a campaign of intimidation against Morey followed by announcements by CCTV and Chinese technology giant Tencent, a major partner of ESPN and the NBA in China with a streaming deal worth $1.5 billion over the next five years, that they would not broadcast the Rockets’ games.

Chinese e-commerce giants JD and TaoBao also removed Houston Rockets products from their virtual stores. Games were briefly aired in October 2020 before being removed again.

Despite the boycott resulting in multi-million dollar losses for the NBA, Chinese sports media said the league continued to make efforts to maintain its presence in the country’s market during this time.

Between 2019 and 2021, the NBA opened flagship stores in major Chinese cities including Beijing, Tianjin and Guangzhou, and 24 teams celebrated Chinese New Year in February with online activities for fans in China, according to media.

In February, the New York Brooklyn Nets invited China’s ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, to a game at the Barclays Center in New York. EFE


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