Ex-NBA Player Royce White Condemns China, Nike During Sen. Blackburn Panel On Boycotting Beijing Games

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The 2022 Winter Olympics have begun in Beijing, right when China is being repeatedly accused of massive human rights violations, including genocide of Uighur Muslims. Great timing, huh?

Yet all of this tends to go largely ignored by the American mainstream media, which is often either in bed with or outright terrified of China.

So U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) held a virtual roundtable to discuss boycotting the Winter Games, with a panel of guests that included former NBA player Royce White, as well as several activists on the Beijing Olympics.

“Why are we sending our athletes to Beijing,” Blackburn asked, citing widespread concern from those she represents.

Basically, the U.S. media and corporations are in China “making Beijing look good while they continue to carry out their genocide,” Blackburn told the panel.

Perhaps no American business is as reliant on China as the NBA. Without question, no sports league has profited as greatly financially off its relationship with China as the NBA. If pro basketball only had American citizens behind it, there would likely be about half as many teams and it would likely sell about one-tenth the merchandise.

As former late NBA commissioner David Stern once told me, “There about 350 million people total in America. There about 350 million people total in China who love basketball.”

At the time, though, the NBA and China weren’t where they are today. China, despite its communism, was viewed as a fairly innocent land. Today, its government is considered evil. And while the NBA has regularly called out the U.S. for being a bad place, it refuses to do the same with China, despite the human rights violations for which the NBA so proudly has said it is against. At least, it is in America.

Anyway, back to the Olympics. White, for one, told the panel he would want no part of these Games.

“I wouldn’t participate if I was afforded the opportunity,” White told the panel. “It would be a hard no. One of the disservices we have done to our athletes in this country is remove them from having a more global understanding of these issues.

“We have kind of paved this way for athletes to be able to walk their way through high school, walk their way through college, without any understanding of the greater geopolitical situations. …

“And really, Nike is the overlord of many professional athletes. Nike is the demigod of the sports world — in an idealistic sense, but also in practice and logistically. Nike has huge sway over athletes, over their endorsements, over their likeability, over their image, and their standing with their teams. So we have to address that as well. Many of these people are bought and sold by Nike. So their capitulation to Chinese totalitarianism or authoritarianism is par for the course.”

That said, as Senator Blackburn noted, the U.S. has a lot of citizens who aren’t athletes or activists, but who can still draw attention to the “cruelty and human rights abuses” of the Chinese communist party.

“I can think of three concrete ways that American citizens can help in drawing attention to the issues in China,” said Bhuchung K. Tsering, Interim President for International Campaign for Tibet. “First is that we know now clearly in the United States that China is not playing on a level playing field, or giving a level playing field to the world. China takes everything from the United States, but refuses to give back to the United States in the same way, which is a problem.

“Secondly, China wants the world, as Roy said, to use Western societies, free societies, and all freedom to its advantage. But it doesn’t allow the international community to take advantage of or to use resources that available to China.

“China in a real sense is trying to compete against United States in creating a new world order that the Americans know clearly is against basic human values of democracy, of freedom, of human rights and of rule of law.

“So on all these things, American citizens can write to their newspapers, can speak out on social media. And the athletes who are in China can spread word through their families and friends, and reflect their feelings on how they are (treated while in China).”

For the full discussion on the Beijing Olympics, check out the video below.

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.

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