FIBA at odds with Paris 2024 over basketball venue

The organising committee for the Paris 2024 Olympics has been unable to reach an agreement with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) on where preliminary basketball games should be played during the event, with a plan to stage fixtures in Lille having been criticised by the sport’s global governing body.

Paris 2024 is seeking a new venue to host basketball games before the medal rounds after the Arena Paris Sud Hall 6 was deemed unfit to stage the fixtures.

Organisers had chosen the venue as it tied in with the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s vision of using existing or temporary facilities at the Games. However, the venue drew criticism from members of the French basketball team, which won the silver medal at Tokyo 2020, who labelled the facility as “embarrassing” amid concerns over its low ceiling and potential lack of ventilation.

Paris 2024 and FIBA agreed to immediately identify a venue that meets Olympic requirements but so far no solution has been reached.

The organising committee has suggested staging the games at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, the home of Ligue 1 football club Lille. The stadium, which features a retractable roof, has hosted basketball before and is currently scheduled to stage handball events during the Olympics.

During a general assembly meeting held by the Association of International Federations (ASOIF), discussions were held between Paris 2024 and FIBA. The Associated Press reports that Andreas Zagklis, secretary general of FIBA, told Paris 2024 officials that basketball athletes should not be subjected to the conditions currently on the table and rejected the suggestion of playing games in Lille.

Basketball is expected to be one of the most popular sports at Paris 2024 and Zagklis has expressed concern that athletes would not be able to stay in the athletes’ village if preliminary games are held outside of the capital. Zagklis said: “We feel some basic conditions for our players like in all previous Olympics should be respected.”

Paris 2024 president Tony Estanguet said that the organising committee is seeking to find a solution within its budgetary limits, while ASOIF president Francesco Ricci Bitti has suggested that the International Olympic Committee could step in if no solution is found.

The latter stages of the Paris 2024 basketball competition are due to be played at the larger Accor Arena, while 3×3 events will be held at a temporary 35,000-seat arena that will be developed on the Place de la Concorde.

Image: Anne Jea./CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size