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WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The NBA-China controversy over protests in Hong Kong flared up Wednesday night at a pre-season Washington Wizards game.
Several protestor signs that said, “Free Hong Kong” were taken by Capital One Arena security at an exhibition game with the Wizards and a team from China.
The NBA has been in damage control all week after being criticized for its business ties to China and conflicting statements after the Houston Rockets General Manager tweeted out support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors.
The leaders of the protests here say the NBA is picking and choosing who can protest and who can’t.
Video obtained by FOX 5 shows Capital One Arena security personal taking the “Free Hong Kong” signs away from protestors, but they were allowed to remain in the arena. The protest was organized by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation who demonstrated outside the arena, handing out “Free Hong Kong” t-shirts and holding signs.
Meanwhile, three American university e-sports teams playing the game "Hearthstone" say their feed was shutdown by online company Blizzard for holding up a “Free Hong Kong” sign during the game. Gamer Casey Chambers says they feel the move was censorship, and many people told FOX 5 they agree.
In a statement, the Wizards vice president of communications wrote: “The building security staff removed signs last night in accordance with capital one arena’s long-standing signs, banners, posters, and flag policy, which is detailed below and listed on the arena’s website.”
The Wizards tell FOX 5 the team does not have any more expedition games against Chinese teams. They will play in New York Friday, Milwaukee on Sunday, and wrap up the pre-season next Friday in Philadelphia.