The US National Basketball Association (NBA) has suffered “substantial” losses after an online comment from a team executive prompted a crisis in its relations with China, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said.
“The financial consequences have been, and may continue to be, fairly dramatic,” Silver said.
Earlier this month Houston Rockets’ manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
As a result Chinese firms suspended sponsorship and telecast deals.
The state-run broadcaster CCTV and Tencent Holdings, which streams NBA games in China, said they would stop broadcasting Rockets’ matches.
The Chinese Basketball Association suspended co-operation with the Houston Rockets, as did Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning, and the club’s sponsor in China, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank.
Mr Silver said: “The losses have already been substantial.
“Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak, and we’ll see what happens next,” he told Time magazine’s Time 100 Health Summit in New York.
The NBA is hugely popular in China with around 800 million fans supporting millions of dollars of business.
The NBA has had a presence in China since 1992 when it opened its first office in Hong Kong and the Houston Rockets are the most popular NBA team in China after it signed Chinese player and eight-time NBA All-Star Yao Ming in 2002.
NBA China, which conducts the league’s business in the country, was launched in 2008 and is now worth more than $4bn, according to Forbes.