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The NBA flagship store in Beijing. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The NBA cancelled all media availabilities for the rest of its China trip ahead of this weekend's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets in Shenzhen, reports ESPN.

"We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China. They have been placed into a complicated and unprecedented situation while abroad and we believe it would be unfair to ask them to address these matters in real time."
— The NBA's official statement, per ESPN
  • ESPN says that the league made this decision "independent of Chinese authorities."

The big picture: China is also worried that backlash in the sports world over the NBA firestorm could hurt its image ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, the New York Times reports.

  • "The dispute with the NBA was also quickly politicizing an audience of sports fans who would not normally focus on issues like the protests in Hong Kong."

Meanwhile, in Japan ... Following the Rockets' preseason win over the Raptors, a CNN reporter asked Russell Westbrook and James Harden the following question:

"The NBA has always been a league that prides itself on its players and its coaches being able to speak out openly about political and societal affairs. I just wonder after the events of this week and the fallout we've seen, whether you both feel differently about speaking out in that way in the future."

The response: There wasn't one. A Rockets employee interjected to prevent Westbrook and Harden from answering the question — something the NBA has since apologized for, saying the employee acted "inappropriately."

Go deeper: China's vise grip on corporate America

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

2 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.