US & Canada

Basketball brawl: China and Georgetown make amends

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Media captionChinese and US players threw punches and chairs - courtesy

A Chinese basketball team that got into a brawl with US university players during an exhibition game has visited Beijing airport to make amends.

Players from China's Bayi Rockets shook hands with two Georgetown University players following "heated exchanges" on the court, Georgetown said.

Thursday's match was abandoned after a major fight broke out. A rematch is scheduled for Shanghai on Sunday.

The rumble coincided with a visit to China by US Vice-President Joe Biden.

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said Bayi team members went to the airport to see the Georgetown team off and exchanged souvenirs.

"My understanding is that it's all cleared up," Mr Cui told reporters.

Sporting diplomacy

Amateur video of the fight, shot at the Beijing Olympic Sports Centre Stadium during the goodwill game, spread quickly around the internet and the media.

It showed the two teams throwing punches and metal chairs at one another, while the audience threw water bottles at the American players.

The Georgetown team, known as the Hoyas, are in China on a 10-day trip to coincide with the vice-president's visit.

The matches aimed to use sport to strengthen ties between the two countries in a manner reminiscent of the famous "ping pong diplomacy" of the 1970s, when table tennis matches paved the way for President Richard Nixon's landmark 1972 visit to China.

Instead, the scuffle marked the latest in a chain of on-court brawls by Chinese basketball players, who have been fined by teams around the globe for fighting.

The scuffle drew a disappointed reaction from Chinese fans.

"The Bayi team have really lost face now," one user wrote on the Sina Weibo a popular microblogging website roughly equivalent to Twitter.

"No matter who is right and who is wrong, you have fought the visiting team as the host... especially while their second man in charge is in this country."

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