China Cancels Broadcasts of NBA Preseason Games over Pro-Hong Kong Tweet

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Getty Images/Andy Wong

The Chinese have canceled TV broadcasts and streaming of the NBA’s preseason games, as the communist country continues to react to a supportive tweet for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters posted by an NBA executive.

On Tuesday, CCTV’s sports channel “decided to immediately halt” the broadcasting of any NBA action, and expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” over NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s response to Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s mild tweet in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, CNN Business reported.

The NBA’s digital partner in China, Tencent, also suspended all cooperation with the NBA for streaming its preseason games over Chinese Internet.

The NBA initially seemed to completely rebuke Morey for his mild tweet in support of Hong Kong’s protesters even after Morey deleted the tweet and put out an apology of his own.

An NBA statement apologized to China for Morey’s tweet, but many Americans soon accused the league of appeasing communist tyrants and attempting to quash Morey’s free speech. As the heat grew in the U.S., Silver tried to walk back the league’s original rebuke of Morey.

“There have already been fairly dramatic consequences from that tweet, and I have read some of the media suggesting that we are not supporting Daryl Morey, but in fact we have,” Silver said during his visit to Kyodo, Japan.

The walking back of the apology did not sit well with the Chinese.

“We express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to Silver’s stated support of Morey’s right to free speech. We believe any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability do not belong to the category of free speech,” CCTV said on Monday. “We will also immediately examine all other cooperation and exchanges with the NBA.”

The cascade of cancellations then occurred in China.

Silver called the Chinese response to the situation “unfortunate.”

“It’s not something we expected to happen,” Silver said in Japan. “But if that’s the consequence of us adhering to our values, we still feel it’s critically important to adhere to those values.”

Silver also said he understands that the controversy may not die down any time soon.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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