• Reuters

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New Zealand’s men’s basketball team has withdrawn from Olympic qualifiers in Serbia due to costs associated with COVID-19 protocols and international travel, the country’s governing body (BBNZ) said on Friday.

New Zealand has also pulled out of the FIBA 3×3 Olympic qualifying event in Austria.

BBNZ said it had agreed to prioritize “events that qualify into long-term cycles” after consulting with senior players and the players’ association.

The governing body will instead invest in “must-play” competitions, including the FIBA Asia Cup cycles for the men’s and women’s teams which determine qualification for their respective World Cups cycles.

“The board spent considerable time weighing up the future of our international teams,” BBNZ Chief Executive Iain Potter said in a statement.

“They have accepted a level of measured risk, with a deficit forecast for this year that we are backing ourselves to cover through sponsorship and additional funding.

“But even with the additional commitment, the program would require another three-quarters of a million dollars to ensure we could participate in all scheduled 2021 events.”

The Tall Blacks have only qualified for the Olympics twice, most recently in 2004, when they placed 10th.

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