FIBA’s Baumann doubts basketball age limit will be imposed


Staff Writer

Patrick Baumann, FIBA’s secretary general, believes an age-limit proposal won’t be approved for the 2016 Rio Summer Games men’s basketball tournament. Still, there could be some changes made to the current tournament format, he acknowledged.

Unlike the Olympic soccer tournament, which has an under-23 format save for three players per side, the basketball competition permits all adult players without a maximum age rule.

But FIBA, basketball’s world governing body, has re-branded its quadrennial world championship, calling it the FIBA World Cup for the 2014 edition in Spain.

“The NBA has come up with the idea to go with under-23, and at the same time to promote younger athletes,” Baumann said Saturday at North Greenwich Arena, site of Sunday’s gold-medal game between the United States and Spain. “And also to make a difference between (the) World Cup and the Olympic Games. Those are the main reasons. From FIBA’s perspective, we understand the perspective from USA Basketball and the NBA. I’m not necessarily sure we have the same idea, but we understand the owners’ concerns.”

The 82-game NBA season and four-round playoff tournament is a demanding, hectic schedule and limiting which players can participate in the Olympics has been mentioned by some NBA owners as a smart move on their investment.

“We want to keep the strength of the Olympics and ensure that basketball remains a hot spot at the games,” Baumann said. “We want to tackle this wear-and-tear aspect that the owners and the NBA are putting on the table through their under-23 idea and others. For us, it will still be about trying to find a way to serve everybody’s purpose as best as possible. We will ask for changes and we will have discussions with the IOC and the NBA.”

FIBA plans to submit two proposals to the IOC in 2013 for the 2016 Rio Games basketball tournament. Baumann said one proposal will be to increase the number of teams in the field to 16 from 12, thus setting up four groups of four in the opening round.

“We would be able to promote beyond the 12 (teams) and at the same time, use the competition to go from 19 days to 14 or 15,” Baumann said.

Another idea that is less likely to gain widespread support is a proposed 3-on-3 tournament in Rio that replaces the traditional 5-on-5 format.

Larry Probst, CEO of the United States Olympic Committee, is a strong proponent for keeping the Olympic basketball tournament open to all players without an age limit in place.

“All I can give you is my personal opinion because I don’t know how it’s going to play out longer term, but I would like to see the best players in the world,” Probst said Saturday. “If they happen to be 37 or 19, I would like to see us field the very best team we can put on the court and playing the very best team we can put on the court and playing the very best teams from other countries.”

Unusual tribute: George Avery was the triple jump silver medalist at the 1948 London Games. He died in 2006 in his native Australia, in New South Wales state.

On Thursday, his family brought his ashes to Olympic Stadium, specifically to the triple jump area, and let his remains drift away in the breeze, according to published reports.

“(His ashes) went right over the triple jump run-up,” Robyn Glynn, Avery’s daughter, was quoted as saying in various news outlets.

“We decided that this is where he would have wanted to come back to. He really wanted to be here, but he didn’t quite make it.”

Race walker’s misfortunes: Yuki Yamazaki was assessed three technical faults in the men’s 50 km racewalk on Saturday, ending his Olympics in a disappointing manner.

“It’s a great shame,” Yamazaki, a Toyama Prefecture native, told reporters. “I thought I had prepared enough for this race, but this is the difficulty of the walk race. I had the penalties. It was my fault. I cannot blame the judge.”

“I was seventh in Beijing and I aimed to do better in this race. I have spent four years preparing for this. It is a pity,” he added.

Voting results: Slovakia’s Danka Bartekova (shooting), Australia’s James Tomkins (rowing), Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry (swimming) and France’s Tony Estanguet (canoe-kayak) were chosen for eight-year terms on the IOC Athletes’ Commission, it was announced on Saturday.

Voting results were delayed for two days due to an investigation of rules violations, Namibian Frankie Fredericks, outgoing commission chairman said.

Hammer thrower Koji Murofushi, a two-time medalist including bronze in London, and Taiwan’s Chu Mu-yen (taekwondo) were ruled ineligible after an investigation. Fredericks described their actions as “repeated and clear breach of rules of conduct applicable to the election campaigns.”

“The basic rule is that you are not supposed to bring any other documents within the Olympic Village other than the ones that we allow you to,” Fredericks said. “We say that every athlete can bring in an A4 sheet where they can put a little bit in black and white and then we also say that they can give a 3-minute explanation of what value they will bring to the Athletes’ Commission, to the IOC. And those videos we play in the voting booths.

“We also have a chance to inform all the athletes where they cannot campaign and what they are not supposed to do. So I think the rules were quite clear and the 19 candidates followed the rules, and two decided not to do so.”

Voting was done by current Olympians, with 6,924 casting votes. Baretkova was the top vote-getter (2,295).

Memorable quote: “We are not obliged to throw our president out of a helicopter.”

— Rio 2106 handover ceremony executive director Marco Balich, saying Brazil will not imitate the London Games’ Opening Ceremony, where Queen Elizabeth II went airborne, landing in Olympic Stadium with a parachute.