Some recent items of note.
- North Korea is out of the Olympics. As the article notes, there’s a twofold explanation: covid-exposure fears and a rebuke of the opportunity for diplomatic conversations, sending a message to both Seoul and DC. This is decidedly a step backwards after the seeming progress at the previous winter games and in-line with the state’s recent weapons tests.
- The US is mulling a 2022 Olympic Boycott. Here’s my in-depth analysis: not happening.
- After a year-long delay due to the pandemic, the NBA’s Basketball Africa League will launch next month. This is a big and logical step for the league, a way to extend the global brand and step up talent development efforts on the continent. Given the lingering friction with China over the Daryl Morey-Hong Kong “scandal”, I expect more of these diverse global efforts from the league. Update 4/9/21: Xinjiang cotton production may be at the center of the next China-NBA rift.
- Xi Jinping has his sights set on soccer. Despite several attempts over the years, China has never really ascended on the global soccer stage. With a strong foothold in Olympic sports, gaining relevance in world soccer is an obvious step for China, but of course it’s easier said than done. But things can change if the Chinese government follows to through on the vision to throw big money and big efforts into the sport. Competitive success is complicated, but hosting a World Cup and taking a bigger role in FIFA seem inevitable.