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NBA cancels all Lakers-Nets press events in China

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Agence France-Presse

The National Basketball Association (NBA) said Friday it had cancelled all remaining scheduled press events for its pre-season games in China, citing the “complicated and unprecedented” controversy over Hong Kong protests and free speech.

“We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China,” the NBA said in a statement.

“They have been placed into a complicated and unprecedented situation while abroad and we believe it would be unfair to ask them to address these matters in real time.”

An NBA representative told AFP that the second of two games in China between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, set for Saturday night in the southern city of Shenzhen, was still expected to proceed as planned.

The two teams played their first game in Shanghai on Thursday.

Broadcasters earlier dropped plans to air the two games in China in protest.

The annual China exhibition games have been dogged by controversy since a Houston Rockets executive’s expression of support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protests sparked a fierce Chinese backlash.

The row has caused the NBA’s Chinese sponsors to cut ties in protest and has developed into yet another irritant in the fractious US-China relationship after leading US politicians urged the NBA to ditch all activities in China in retaliation.

The NBA had already cancelled a series of planned promotional events and press conferences in Shanghai as the feud reached a fever pitch.