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Chinese and Georgetown basketball teams reconcile after nasty brawl at ‘goodwill tour’ game

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BEIJING >>The Chinese team that got into a nasty brawl with Georgetown University players in an exhibition game went to the Beijing airport today to reconcile and see off their departing rivals ahead of a rematch Sunday in Shanghai.

A brief statement from Georgetown said head coach John Thompson III and two of the team’s players met with representatives of China’s Bayi Rockets following “heated exchanges” in Thursday night’s exhibition game.

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

“My understanding is that it’s all cleared up,” Cui told reporters at a briefing on Vice President Joe Biden’s ongoing visit to China. “We’re pleased about this outcome.”

The two teams play each other again on Sunday in Shanghai.

Chinese basketball fans slammed Bayi, which is owned by China’s military, for its part in the brawl that forced the cancelation of a match intended to promote U.S.-China goodwill during Biden’s visit.

Video footage showing players punching each other and throwing chairs spread swiftly on the Internet and worldwide TV news.

It was the latest instance of on-court fighting by China, whose players have been fined tens of thousands of dollars by the world and Asian federations for scrapping with opponents.

In October, China’s national basketball coach, a manager and three players were suspended for an ugly brawl with Brazil’s team that left one Chinese player in a neck brace. Fights are also not uncommon at Chinese football matches.

The video clip appears to show American players falling over Chinese players as they all run for the ball, and then two members from each side slamming into each other. Seconds later, the brawl breaks out.

The Georgetown Hoyas are in China on a 10-day goodwill trip that has been cited by the U.S. State Department as an example of sports diplomacy that strengthens ties between the two countries’ peoples.

Su Qun, a well-known basketball commentator in China, said blame shouldn’t be aimed solely at the players.

“It’s not correct for players to fight. But we see fighting occasionally and it is often because of management problems in sports teams,” he said. “It’s important that teams have strict rules on discipline.”

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