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Bob Costas tees off on the NBA, LeBron James, and Colin Kaepernick for brushing aside China's human rights abuses

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Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The White House announced Monday that the U.S. will engage in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics in response to China's "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, and other human rights abuses." After the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, China declared, "The U.S. will pay a price for its practices."

Bob Costas — who was the prime-time TV host for a record 11 Olympics — appeared on CNN to discuss the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The Hall of Fame announcer also ripped the NBA, LeBron James, and Colin Kaepernick for their lack of criticism of China's record of human rights abuses. Costas also questioned why the International Olympic Committee is cozy with authoritarian nations.

"The Chinese say we'll pay the price for our wrongdoings, but they never want to pay the price or acknowledge their monstrous wrongdoings," Costas said of the Chinese Communist Party.

"What is it with the IOC and their affinity for authoritarian nations? There will be an Olympics — a Summer Olympics — in 2028 in Los Angeles," Costas told CNN host Michael Smerconish. "It will have been since 2002 when the Winter Games were in Salt Lake, since there has been an Olympics on American soil. And yet, American television is the single greatest source of revenue for the IOC."

"Many IOC delegates remain ticked off at the U.S. because a free press blew the cover off the Salt Lake bidding scandal. ... They have long memories about this stuff," Costas added. "And, the IOC and many of those delegates act in a high-handed way. And in that sense, you can see where the affinity for authoritarian nations comes in."

Costas claimed that the CCP attempted to have him fired for remarks he made about China during commentary on NBC at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Beginning in 1996, when I ran afoul of the Chinese because I said as they came in during the opening ceremony in Atlanta, 'You’re looking at the one nation that has the means and the motivation to replicate what the old Soviet Bloc and the Eastern Bloc did with their sports machine,' with all that implies and a few other things," Costas said. "Orchestrated from Beijing, there was an effort to have me fired. NBC would have none of it. Then they said we’ll accept a full public apology in prime time, and I wouldn’t do that. Eventually, it went away.”

Smerconish then mentioned that the NBA is in bed with China. "I have to believe that there are some guys holding their breath watching this, because if this is sufficient grounds for there to be a diplomatic boycott, then what does it say about the NBA doing business in China?"

Costas replied, "The NBA is up to its neck in China. China is a huge sports market. Basketball is especially popular there. But they will put up with not even the slightest criticism. They reject it out of hand. And when they can ... they exact a price."

"Back a couple of years ago when Daryl Morey — then the GM of the Houston Rockets — tweeted 'Stand with Hong Kong,' Rockets games were suddenly off the air for an extended period in China," Costas explained. "And the Rockets are one of the most popular teams there because Yao Ming was the first big Chinese star in the NBA."

"More recently, Enes Kanter, who grew up in Turkey ... he spoke out against China," he continued. "Same thing. Celtics games, like that, gone. I guarantee you that the feed of this conversation is gone in China right now."

Enes Kanter Freedom — who plays center for the Celtics — has been extremely critical of the Chinese Communist Party. The basketball player has delivered pro-Tibet remarks, condemned China's brutal oppression of the Uighurs, and slammed Chinese President Xi Jinping as a "brutal dictator." China removed Celtics games from Chinese TV in October.

Smerconish theorized that "most Americans are not dialed in on the issue" of China's record of human rights violations and "just want to make sure there is an iPhone under the tree in three weeks."

Costas noted that the United States is dependent on China for products, including Nike — which has pushed progressive agendas in advertisements, but CEO John Donahue said in June, "Nike is a brand that is of China and for China."

"By the way, a lot of Nike’s goods that benefit the likes of Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James — made in China," Costas said of the athletes who have been outspoken social justice activists. "And those outspoken individuals, and in many cases, I think millions of Americans would agree with their positions on domestic issues, but they are conspicuously mum when it comes to China. And no matter what the issues are here, and they are serious issues, in terms of dimension, they pale alongside what’s going on there."

ONE-ON-ONE With Bob Costas On The U.S. diplomatic Boycott of the Beijing Olympics www.youtube.com

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