The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang.
The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players.
One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said.
“The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June 2019 and have been re-evaluating the NBA Academy program in China.”
Tatum said that the program, launched in 2016, was set up to provide support to existing development centers in China run by local authorities.
“Our role was limited to providing three coaches at each academy, none of whom have been alleged to have engaged in any wrongdoing,” he said.
The NBA received a “handful” of complaints about mistreatment of players and Tatum identified four incidents of such abuse, a league spokesman said, confirming elements of the ESPN report.
The General Administration of Sport of China, the country’s top sports body, did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday and yesterday.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined comment on Thursday, saying that the issues raised in the ESPN report were not matters of diplomacy.
Meanwhile, China Central Television (CCTV) maintained its blackout of NBA games as the league resumed yesterday.
Although Chinese Internet giant Tencent streamed the NBA’s return from a four-month COVID-19 shutdown, the world’s most popular basketball competition remained inaccessible to China’s TV audiences.
CCTV suspended all broadcasts of NBA matches in October after a Houston Rockets executive tweeted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.
Additional reporting by AFP
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