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Pac-12 cancels annual men’s basketball game in China

Announcement is first hoops-oriented domino to fall due to pandemic

At least one small corner of the Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball schedule officially has been compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the league announced it has canceled the 2020 game in China, the annual excursion that always features at least one league team in a season-opening showcase event overseas. This year’s contest would have been the sixth annual game in China and was set to pair Washington against Tulane.

Last year’s showcase was the first to feature a pair of Pac-12 teams, with the Colorado Buffaloes posting an 81-71 victory against Arizona State in a contest played as a nonconference game.

The week-long trip typically includes cultural exchange events and tourism outings for both teams.

Two weeks ago, the Pac-12 announced the cancellation of all nonconference games for every fall sport, which included the Buffs’ season-opening football game at Colorado State. Wednesday’s announcement regarding the Pac-12 basketball game in China was an expected one, but it comes at a time of increased tensions between the United States and China. The President has consistently referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus,” and on Tuesday the United States ordered China to vacate its U.S. Consulate in Houston by the end of the week.

Despite that political backdrop, the Pac-12 expressed optimism the annual event will resume in 2021.

“The Pac-12 has made the decision to cancel our 2020 China game due to challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis,” the league announced in a statement. “This decision was made in coordination with our 2020 China game participants University of Washington and Tulane University, along with our partners Alibaba and the Federation of University Sport of China. We look forward to announcing details around the 2021 China game and our important ongoing Pac-12 global initiative in due course.”

Further clarification on the state of the 2020 football season may arrive Friday as the NCAA Board of Governors is scheduled to meet. The Big Ten and Big East, like the Pac-12, have announced a conference-only approach to fall sports. The SEC and ACC already have delayed the start of all fall competitions to at least Sept. 1, and on Wednesday the American Athletic Conference announced a similar plan. Also on Wednesday, Clemson joined a growing number of prominent Division I schools — including USC and Cal in the Pac-12 — that will begin the fall semester with online-only instruction.