US athlete “scary” talks about Beijing’s abuse of money: NBA player

According to the Boston Celtics center Enes Freedom, American athletes and the entire sports world have avoided taking a public position against communist Chinese human rights atrocities.

“Whenever we sit down to have a conversation, they … clearly admit the genocide and know what’s going on,” Freedom said on January 31st, hosted by the Think Tank Heritage Foundation. Speaking to a livestreaming event. “But unfortunately, they are scared and can’t say anything, again because business and money are aspects of it.”

“That’s the most traumatic thing,” said the NBA player, referring to the collective silence of his sports buddies.

“They know what’s going on, they know all the abuse done by the CCP [Chinese Communist Party], But … they’re telling me they have to keep silent just because they made these big backstory deals or because there are a lot of jerseys and shoes sold in China, but they support me and I I’m praying for, “he said.

And that means “not just athletes.” Freedom said he observed the same self-censorship by the league, not only among NBA representatives, but also among others who have the platform.

The silence of the sports world is not unusual. Observers note that the fear of economic retaliation by Beijing has prevented various other sectors from being on the administration’s human rights record.

Celtics Freedom Basketball
The Boston Celtics Center’s Enes Freedom will look to the team’s bench in the first half of the NBA basketball game in Boston on December 1, 2021. (CharlesKrupa / AP Photo)

Dr. Weldon Gilkries, a gastrointestinal oncologist at the University of Utah, faced a backlash in September when he wanted to discuss how to respond to government-approved organ removal with medical leaders. Talked about.

One of them said, “There is no doubt that the Chinese Communist Party can commit such atrocities and it is actually happening, but when we say something, China is simply all. Essentially told me that I would send the students to Texas. [instedd of Utah]”Gilcrease said in a virtual panel discussion.

“You definitely get support at the individual level, but if you try to raise it to the level of an institution, it’s deafeningly quiet,” Gilkries told The Epoch Times earlier.

Over a dozen NBA players have signed approval agreements with China-based sports brands related to forced labor. Brands such as You and Li-Ning openly accept cotton procurement from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, even though U.S. officials and experts have identified it as likely to have been made by Uighur forced labor. ..

Beijing has revealed that it accepts little criticism from the outside world. In 2019, the Chinese partner soon broke the relationship after the then NBA’s Houston Rockets manager posted a tweet showing solidarity with Hong Kong’s opposition to democratization. Several players have been canceled in China and one has reportedly lost $ 1 million in support in China.

As it kicks off in a few days prior to the Winter Olympics, Chinese authorities have shown little tolerance to public criticism. Beijing Olympic officials have warned that participating athletes violate the “Olympic spirit” and do not speak out about political issues so that they do not end their competitive abilities early.

Epoch Times Photo
Police officers will guard inside the closed loop bubble of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on January 29, 2022, near the main media center in Beijing’s Olympic Park. (Kevin Frayer / Getty Images)

Freedom, who leverages social media to highlight China’s persecuted groups, saw his name quietly removed from the Celtics roster of Sohu, China’s leading media portal. Internet giant Tencent has signed a five-year contract to broadcast NBA games in China, and livestreamed the Celtics game in October after Freedom created a video calling for the end of the suppression in Tibet. Was withdrawn from the site. Broadcast service has not resumed as of Monday.

Asked if he was paying the price, the 29-year-old looks unabashed.

“Someone has to do that,” he said. “I will be one of them. If you call it I will be a bad guy [sic] Bad guy. “

Freedom said he would do everything he could to “educate” his peers. “I can’t stop just because all that business is involved,” he said.

“I hope more athletes join me,” he said. “It’s a long way, but I always say that God is with me.”



Eva Fu is a New York-based writer of The Epoch Times, focusing on Sino-US relations, religious freedom, and human rights. Contact Eva at [email protected]