Jeff Ayres leaves Japan, says league didn’t prioritize players’ health

Jeff Ayres leaves Japan, says league didn’t prioritize players’ health

"I do believe that the pressure of hosting the Olympics had something to do with that"

Former NBA center Jeff Ayres left Japan and returned to the United States because of his discomfort with how the Japanese league handled the coronavirus situation.

“I decided not to practice or play due to concern regarding how the league, and my team specifically, was doing to keep players safe,” Ayres told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. “I felt we were putting ourselves at risk. It was a reckless environment.”

“The team is now saying they will terminate my contract due to breach of contract because I decided to leave,” Ayres said. “The league was mostly concerned about sponsorship money and that teams would go bankrupt. They were more worried about their bottom line than the safety of players.

“I do believe that the pressure of hosting the Olympics had something to do with that. They need to show people that Japan is safe so they could get tourism going again. They kept saying they have this contained. How do you know that when you don’t have enough tests to test people? The numbers say you don’t know who has it and where.”

Source: ESPN.

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