Why understanding diplomacy is the No.1 rule for navigating the Chinese sports market (a Chinese perspective on the Rockets/NBA fallout)

Monday, 21 October 2019 By Guo Cai

On 13 September 2019, the author was privileged to discuss the topic of sports diplomacy on a distinguished panel entitled “Diplomacy, Exploring the Relationship between Sports, Global Politics and the Law”, at the 5th annual LawInSport Conference held in London. Though our time on the panel to dissect such a complex issue was limited, the author appreciated the opportunity to touch upon the pivotal role of diplomacy in shaping the sport sector in China, and why understanding sports diplomacy is the first rule of thumb for anyone interested in building healthy, sustainable presence in the Chinese sport market.

Using the NBA’s recent fallout with China as an example, this article purports to elaborate on the issues touched upon on the panel (available for LawInSport Plus members to view here1). Specifically, it explains:

  • Why the Houston Rockets and NBA have faced public criticism in China;

  • The importance of diplomacy when navigating China’s sports market; and

  • Key points for sports organisations and stakeholders when engaging with Chinese fans.

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Written by

Guo Cai

Guo Cai

Ms. Guo Cai oversees the International Law and Sports Business practice, Jin Mao Law Firm, the first Chinese law firm to establish a practice dedicated to the sports industry. Ms. Cai graduated from Harvard Law School and China University of Political Science and Law. She also held an LLM in Human Rights (distinction) from the University of Hong Kong. Admitted to practice in China and the US (New York), Ms. Cai specializes in international dispute resolution and sports law, with the aspiration to grow with the Chinese sports industry and connect international best practice with sports in China.

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