SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese organisers on Wednesday cancelled a fan event on the eve of a planned National Basketball Association (NBA) exhibition game in Shanghai, part of an escalating row over a team official who supported protests in Hong Kong.
On Wednesday afternoon, a press conference with the two teams was delayed indefinitely, organisers said, and a Reuters witness saw workers tearing down giant banners advertising the exhibition game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets.
Sponsors and partners had already cut ties with the NBA after a tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey last week supported anti-government protests in the Chinese-ruled city, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver backed his right to free speech.
Here are comments from Chinese fans.
YU JIE, FANWAITING TO SEENBAPLAYERS IN SHANGHAI
“I don’t know why political conflicts affect sporting events. Just because they don’t want us to see Morey’s comments on TV, the fans’ night has been cancelled.
“I’m patriotic of course. I support that Hong Kong is part of China, but I just don’t understand this.”
XU ZIYANG, ANOTHERFANOUTSIDETHEPLAYERS’ HOTEL
“Personal opinions belong to them. It doesn’t affect us chasing the stars.
“We don’t know if the players will come out, but they should appear at night to eat dinner or go shopping. The fans’ night has been cancelled – that can’t be helped – but I think they will appear”.
KEITHYUEN, NBABASKETBALLFAN IN HONGKONG
“I don’t think he (Silver) is mixing up sports and politics. I think he was speaking as a U.S. citizen on this occasion. I’m really grateful for his support and the support of the majority of the U.S. citizens.”
(Reporting by Shanghai bureau, edited by Darren Schuettler and Gerry Doyle)