Sen. Marsh Blackburn, R-Tenn., Is taking on the NBA after reports of a new bombing that the sports league offered to lawmakers “completely inaccurate” statements about their training academies in China.
ESPN on Wednesday ran an explosive report alleging that the NBA’s youth program in China suffered from human rights abuses.
The report cited a Blackburn letter received from NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer Mark Tatum, responding to his investigation about the report that the league was continuing to operate its training center in Xinjiang, One place he noted was “the world’s worst humanitarian zone.”
“The NBA has had no affiliation with Xinjiang Basketball Academy for more than a year and the relationship has ended,” Tatum told the senator.
However, two sources disputed Tatum’s remarks about ESPN’s comment that there was a plan to leave Xinjiang in Spring 2019.
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“One coach said the league was still seeking to move other coaches well over the summer and ESPN reported that the league’s statement to Blackburn was’ completely inaccurate.”
“They were still trying to get people out of there,” the coach told ESPN. “It’s not over because [Tatum] Said, “We are going to end this.”
A Blackburn spokesman told Fox News that the senator “intends to immediately liaise with the NBA to get to the bottom of the league’s presence in Xinjiang.”
“The report is flawed and the NBA needs to voluntarily correct its participation record,” Blackburn reacted to ESPN’s Expo.
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In a Fox News statement, Tatum said the league ended its involvement with the Basketball Academy in Xinjiang in June 2019 and that it “is reevaluating the NBA academy program in China,” allegations from ESPN report To disturb. “
“We launched this non-profit elite player development initiative in 2016 by working to support three existing basketball development centers in China run by local sports authorities. Our role was limited to providing three coaches at each academy, of which Nobody has been accused. To be engaged in any wrongdoing, “added Tatum.
ESPN reported on Wednesday that young participants in the NBA program were physically beaten by Chinese instructors and were not given proper schooling, despite Commissioner Adam Silver’s previous commitment that education would be “central” to the program.
“A former league employee compared the atmosphere when he worked in ‘World War II Germany’ in Xinjiang,” ESPN reported.
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The ESPN report goes into detail that the NBA’s training academies, which started in 2016, were largely under the control of the Chinese government, with a coach who worked for the program, called “one for athletes Sweat camp “.
“We were originally working for the Chinese government,” a former coach told ESPN.
Multiple NBA staffers filed complaints about the league over how they were watching Chinese coaches “strike teenage players” and the lack of education young participants were receiving.
A former coach told ESPN that he saw a Chinese coach “fire a ball into the face of a young player at the point-blank range and then hit him in the gorge”.
According to ESPN, NBA officials asked current and former employees not to talk to the Sports Network about the exposure, with an email from a public relations official reading, “Please do not mention that you were advised not to respond by the NBA.” Has been given. “
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“You can’t have it both ways,” a former employee told ESPN. “You can promote the Black History Month here in February and end up in China, where they are in Reading’s camps, and all those people who are partnering with you are killing children.”
Tatum told ESPN that the league is “reevaluating” and “considering other opportunities” for the program.
Last year, the NBA’s intense ties with China have been scrutinized after league players and coaches criticized the country’s human rights violations and expressed support for Hong Kong.
Earlier this month, the NBA’s relationship with China was criticized afresh, after it was revealed that customers were banned from ordering custom gear that read “Free Hong Kong” on its online store .
The store’s operator, Fanetics, suggested that the phrase “is inadvertently prohibited” and the ban was lifted. However, days later, the NBA pulled all custom gear from its online store.
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ESPN’s head NBA reporter Adrian Wojrovski also raised an eyebrow when he called Sen. “Josh Hawley, R-Mo.” Ko received a deep response to counsel’s criticism of the league’s decision to “pre-approve, social justice slogans”, while “backing support” for the law. Enforcement and criticism of the Chinese Communist Party.
Wojnarowski issued an apology and was temporarily suspended by the network.