Magic Johnson
NBA legend Magic Johnson has cancelled his visit to Jeruslaem.Reuters

Basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson and other NBA stars have cancelled their visit to Israel to open a Jerusalem sports arena.

The stars were set to arrive in Israel on 3 September to open the new multi-purpose Jerusalem Arena, a plan devised by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

The NBA had agreed to send 10 present and past NBA starts for an exhibition game against the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball club.

The Jerusalem Municipality received a phone call from the stars' representatives to inform them that their participation in the event was cancelled, according to Israel's Ynet News.

The final line-up of players joining Johnson on the Jerusalem court had yet to be announced and there is currently no confirmation whether the basketball stars' cancellation is due to security concerns over the Gaza conflict or in protest at Israel's ongoing air and ground operation in the territory.

"This is a serious blow to the arena's inauguration. We have been working on the opening event for a long time, and now we will have to readjust," said CEO of Ariel, the opening ceremony's production company, Zion Turgeman.

However, Turgeman said that the event would go-ahead despite the cancellation.

"We intend to invite 5,000 soldiers to the opening in order to thank the IDF for its contribution to the state," he said.

Johnson, 54, began and ended his career with the Los Angeles Lakers where he won five NBA championships and three MPV awards. He has since been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Johnson was recently involved in a high-profile spat with Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

An audio recording of Sterling leaked in which he made racist comments and told his girlfriend "not to bring black people" to his team's games, alluding to her meeting with Johnson. 

The basketball star retired from the sport in 1991 after revealing that he had been diagnosed with HIV.

No representative of the Jerusalem Municipality was immediately available for comment.