BEIJING — A wild brawl broke out between Georgetown and a Chinese men’s basketball team Thursday night, putting an immediate end to a supposed goodwill game that coincided with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the country.
The benches cleared and fights erupted all over the court with about 9½ minutes left in the fourth quarter. The rest of the exhibition between Georgetown and the Bayi Rockets was called off.
Biden did not attend the game. On Wednesday, he watched the Hoyas beat the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons 98-81.
The Washington Post reported Georgetown and Bayi players tackled and threw punches at each another. Chairs and water bottles were tossed as the Hoyas headed to the locker room with the score 64-all in a testy, foul-plagued matchup.
“Tonight, two great teams played a very competitive game that unfortunately ended after heated exchanges with both teams,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said in a statement. “We sincerely regret that this situation occurred.”
Georgetown and the Rockets are scheduled to play again Sunday night in Shanghai.
The melee 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.
Georgetown is in China on a 10-day trip which has been cited by the U.S. State Department as an example of sports diplomacy that strengthens ties between the two countries. The Hoyas were briefed by the State Department ahead of their departure on what to expect during its trip to Beijing and Shanghai, according to news releases on the university’s website.
“We remain grateful for the opportunity our student-athletes are having to engage in a sport they love here in China, while strengthening their understanding of a nation we respect and admire at Georgetown University,” Thompson III said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner called it an “unfortunate” incident.
“We look to these types of exchanges to promote good sportsmanship and strengthen our people-to-people contact with China,” he said.
On Thursday, Biden met with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, who is expected to take over as Communist Party chief next year. After his China trip, Biden will go to Mongolia on Monday, then travel later in the day Japan.