TASHKENT -- The Harlem Globetrotters will represent the US State Department's Sports Envoy programme in Uzbekistan April 29 through May 6, the US embassy in Uzbekistan said in a statement Thursday (April 25).
The exhibition basketball team will conduct youth basketball clinics as well as present its anti-bullying programme -- T.E.A.M. Up at School -- in Tashkent. Engaging youth in sports is often seen as a means of preventing them from falling into the hands of extremists, which is a concern of the Uzbek government.
In 2017, the newly founded Union of Youth of Uzbekistan put forth a number of priorities, including prevention of extremist recruitment among the discontented. The Union of Youth's founding decree, which Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed in 2017, describes "immunisation of youth against ideological threats" as a priority.
The Globetrotters have a long history of serving as US Ambassadors of Goodwill around the world.
The Globetrotters programme is part of efforts designed to bolster the United States' cultural and social ties with the government and people of Uzbekistan, a long-standing partner and ally, the embassy said.
The trip to Uzbekistan, which marks the team's 124th country visited, will see the Globetrotters play three games against the Washington Generals -- their perennial rivals -- at Humo Arena in Tashkent May 26, May 28 and May 30.
"It is always an honour to be asked by the State Department to spread our message of goodwill around the world," said Howard Smith, president of the Globetrotters.
"It goes right to the heart of what it means to be a Globetrotter, going all the way back throughout our 93-year history, and we're thrilled to bring our brand of showmanship and entertainment to new audiences in Uzbekistan," he said.