Chinese state TV won't air NBA opening night games amid Hong Kong flap

Chinese state television maintained its ongoing boycott of NBA games for opening night of the league’s 2019-20 season on Tuesday.

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State-owned CCTV is not airing the NBA’s opening night doubleheader in China on Tuesday night, ESPN reported. The television network suspended all NBA broadcasts shortly after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong on Oct. 4.

Tencent Sports, which holds exclusive streaming rights to NBA games in the Chinese market, will only air the opening night game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers. Tencent also canceled some preseason game broadcasts in the wake of Morey’s tweet, but has since aired other games.

NBA officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The NBA’s sponsors in China suspended business ties with the league after Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement in support of Morey’s right to freedom of speech. Silver said last week that Chinese government officials asked him to fire Morey – a request he denied.

“We made clear that we were being asked to fire him, by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business,” Silver said during an appearance at the Time 100 Health Summit in New York City. “We said there’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.”

CCTV aired a commentary segment last Saturday accusing Silver of “fabricating lies out of nothing” by alleging that Beijing asked the NBA to discipline Moray.

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The report added that Silver “will receive retribution sooner or later” over his remarks.

The NBA’s deal with Tencent is one of its most lucrative partnerships. The Chinese tech giant agreed to a five-year extension on the exclusive streaming deal said to be worth $1.5 billion during the offseason.