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US sport halted after police shooting

US sport came to a standstill on Wednesday as athletes boycotted fixtures in protest at the shooting of a black man by police in Wisconsin.

Players representing local teams Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers refused to play their respective NBA basketball and MLB baseball games scheduled for Wednesday. The NBA later cancelled the day’s other two games, with three women’s WNBA games and five Major League Soccer matches also postponed. Tennis player Naomi Osaka pulled out of her WTA semi-final at the Western & Southern Open.

Bucks players released a statement on Wednesday afternoon calling for action and justice for Jacob Blake, who was shot by a policeman in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday. It has been reported that Blake has been paralysed.

“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable,” they said. “In this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.”

Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan backed their players’ stance, adding: “We fully support our players and the decision they made. Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them,” the statement said.

“The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change.”

The NBA season is currently being concluded behind closed doors in Florida, and a meeting took place between representatives from the teams on Wednesday as to how they should respond to the shooting of Blake, which comes three months after George Floyd, another black man, died at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.

It has been reported that players from the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers voted to boycott the remainder of the season, although the majority of teams did not support this action.