Boston Celtics games have been pulled off the air in China by Tencent following Enes Kanter’s recent comments on the Free Tibet movement. Tencent is one of the leading NBA broadcasters in China.
Tencent has marked all recent broadcasts of Celtics games as unavailable, and has indicated no games will be aired in the future.
Kanter recently took to social media with a series of tweets where he called for China to give freedom to the Tibetan people. Kanter addressed his message to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, by calling him a “brutal dictator”.
Kanter followed his initial message with a second tweet about the Free Tibet movement:
More than 150 Tibetan people have burned themselves alive!! — hoping that such an act would raise more awareness about Tibet.— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 20, 2021
I stand with my Tibetan brothers and sisters, and I support their calls for Freedom.#FreeTibet #FreedomShoes pic.twitter.com/MKxfs1l7GA
Kanter wore the shoes pictured in his tweet to Boston’s season opener against the New York Knicks on Wednesday. He did not play in that game.
The leading Celtics social media fan account on Weibo also said they would immediately stop posting about the team. They posted a message stating, “Resolutely resist any behavior that damages national harmony and the dignity of the motherland!”
Boston now joins the Philadelphia 76ers in having their games not broadcast in China. The Sixers are in the second year of a ban, due to Daryl Morey heading the team’s basketball operations. Before the 2019-20 season, when he was the general manager in Houston, Morey tweeted in support of a group of protestors in Hong Kong. That tweet led to all NBA games being temporarily pulled off the air in China. The ban was then limited the Houston Rockets. That prohibition was then transferred to Morey’s current team, the 76ers, at the start of the 2020-21 season and continues to be active today.