FIBA and the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games remain in a dead end for basketball in 2024

FIBA and the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games remain in a dead end for basketball in 2024

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Between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the Organizing Committee of the 2024 Olympic Games, there is a dead end, more than ever. The General Assembly of the Association of International Summer Olympic Sports Federations (ASOIF), held this Wednesday in Lausanne, gave rise to a pass of arms that confirmed the tensions between the two organizations.

At issue: the unresolved issue of where the first week of basketball will take place during the Olympiad. Initially scheduled in the cramped, low-ceilinged room 6 of the Parc des Expositions de la Porte de Versailles, prompting clamor from the international vice Olympic champions – Evan Fournier, Rudy Gobert in particular – the orange ball has since been without home. The meetings between FIBA ​​​​and OCOG since then have not been successful, some have even been cancelled.

Lille, the number one option for the LAME

The OCOG wishes to install basketball in the Pierre-Mauroy de Lille stadium (25,000 seats), which hosted the final phase of Eurobasket 2015 and will host handball in 2024. FIBA ​​​​still rejects this option and wants to be at the center of the event , therefore housed in Paris.

“We respectfully present our concern, FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis politely explained before bringing out the foil for the first few skirmishes. We respect the fact that today it is no longer necessarily possible for the organization to offer the environment equivalent to the World Championships standard, as FIBA ​​does during the World Cup. We understand the importance of the Games experience – opening ceremony, Village… – the world’s number one sporting event, staged in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. »

“The minimum conditions must be respected, as in the previous Olympic Games, for our athletes”

Andreas Zagklis, FIBA ​​Secretary General

“But we believe that the minimum conditions for our players must be respected, not the ones that are currently on the table, as in the previous Olympics. I am talking about being able to stay in Paris, in the Village, about being located one hour from the Olympic sites, not three, from a site that meets the technical criteria of our discipline, that guarantees a safe floor. (reference to concern about air conditioning and humidity in hall 6, which could also arise in Lille), on the hottest days of summer. »

Olympics without NBA superstars?

Zagklis ended his speech wielding -among the usual courtesy formulas- a threat that is still abstract, but serious: that of the possibility of an absence of NBA superstars in the Games.

“Our request is reasonable. Working together, we will be able to resolve this concern about the participation of the best basketball players on the planet in the Paris Games. » Can we reach such an extreme situation? Evan Fournier had mentioned the possibility in these columns as early as March 16, when the controversy erupted: “We are not immune to the franchises, when they understand, pressuring their players not to go there” -. The NBA, at the moment, is following the behind-the-scenes discussions and has not adopted an official position.

“Everyone would like to play at the foot of the Eiffel Tower”

Tony Estanguet, president of Paris 2024

So many arguments to which Tony Estanguet, president of Paris 2024, opposed, between two kindnesses and two yellow smiles, a cold face, returning, at least for the moment, the steering wheel to the FIBA ​​field. “Everyone would like to play in the center of Paris, the best stadium, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. I respect your concerns. I can guarantee you that basketball is important and popular in France. But we have to adapt, stay ambitious, within our budget limits. That is why we are studying together the best compromise. I appreciate your efforts to get to where we are today. The challenges we will still face are probably not just about basketball. We must find collective solutions, acceptable to you in the first place, but at the same time to the organization’s stakeholders, as well as to public opinion. »

“You can count on us to do the best we can,” he added, to a conclusion that sounded like an ending of inadmissibility (at least as far as the search for a Parisian site is concerned): “We are also here to maintain a balance between sports and we want to offer the French public something ambitious in terms of basketball ability. This is an element that we take into consideration in this reflection. »

” In the end, was to declare the president of ASOIF Francesco Ricci Bitti, I think there will be a compromise and the IOC will play the role of referee if there is no solution. I understand both positions, but at the end of the story, the IOC will take the initiative and suggest what kind of solutions will be used for these Games. Very quickly because it is already very late. »

“Both parties work togethercommented an IOC spokesman interviewed by L’Équipe. Several constructive sessions have taken place in recent weeks. The objective is to find a satisfactory solution at a technical level but also in terms of the experience of the participants. We have no doubt, given the combined abilities of Paris 2024 and FIBA, that this will soon be the case. »

Between the power of basketball and the NBA on the one hand, the virtuous economic model of Paris 2024 on the other, the IOC would above all be caught in the crossfire if it were to settle the dispute.

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