BARCELONA, SPAIN – Japan has until the end of October to resolve a dispute between its two competing basketball leagues but there is no threat to the national team competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the sport’s governing body said on Thursday.
FIBA wants a single league in Japan, arguing that disagreements between the bj-league and the National Basketball League (NBL) has affected the growth of the sport in the country.
The governing body’s secretary general, Patrick Baumann, said Japan had until Oct. 31 to find a solution but denied reports that failure to do so would have consequences for the 2020 Games.
“Those stories are not true at all, I never said that. We want to see an end to the problem and they have to make changes,” Baumann told Reuters in Barcelona.
“The deadline will be Oct. 31 for them to do this and then we will see what happens but they will not be prevented from playing in 2020, that is not something we are planning.”
Japan’s men have appeared at the Olympics six times but never since Montreal 1976 and basketball lags a long way behind soccer and baseball in terms of fan participation, ticket sales and television revenue.
The bj-league broke away from the then-Japan Basketball League in 2005 with bright hopes of creating Japan’s first professional championship.
While it was recognized in 2010 by the Japan Basketball Association it has since been beset by financial problems.
George issues apology
NBA star Paul George got the message quickly Thursday.
After tweeting that Ray Rice should be allowed to continue his NFL career and suggesting he was merely responding to being attacked, George backtracked Thursday, replacing his deleted comments with an apology to women and victims of domestic violence.
Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday and suspended indefinitely by the NFL after an elevator video showed Rice knocking out his then-fiancee with a punch to the face. The two are now married.
George tweeted that although he didn’t condone hitting women, he believed Rice should to be allowed to play in the NFL. In another post George wrote: “If you in a relationship and a woman hit you first and attacking YOU .. Then you obviously ain’t beatin HER. Homie made A bad choice!”
After the posts created a stir in media circles, George pulled down all of those posts and replaced them with an apology that read in part: “My intent was not to downplay the situation.”
Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird chastised the team’s best player for the comments.
“Paul George’s tweets from earlier were thoughtless and without regard to the subject of domestic violence and its seriousness in society,” Bird said. “We have talked to Paul to strongly express our displeasure and made it clear that the NBA and the Pacers’ organization will not condone or tolerate remarks of this nature. Paul understands that he was wrong and why his tweets were so inappropriate and is very apologetic.”
George is recuperating from a gruesome compound fracture in his right leg that is likely to keep him out of the entire 2014-15 NBA season.