| LONDON, March 13
LONDON, March 13 British basketball teams will
compete at the London 2012 Olympics after governing body FIBA
agreed on Sunday to give automatic places to the men's and
women's squads and spare them a tricky qualification process.
The decision, taken by FIBA's central board at a meeting in
Lyon, means Britain will be represented in an Olympic tournament
for the first time since 1948, when London last hosted the
It also means that Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng will get
to play in the Olympics for his adopted country.
However, basketball's governing body laced its announcement
with a warning that it is still not happy with the way the sport
is governed in Britain -- a major sticking point in the decision
to allow British teams to compete.
"The central board took a vote on the following proposal:
yes, both men's and women's teams should play at the Olympic
Games, but on the condition that by 30th June 2012, British
Basketball and the home nations (England, Scotland and Wales)
figure out the best way for the future governance of the sport,"
FIBA said in a statement.
"The British Basketball Federation and the home nations have
until that date to decide what mode of governance they want to
go forward with after the Olympic Games end."
Basketball is the only sport at the 2012 Games in which
Britain's participation depends on the sport's governing body
rather than the British Olympic Association (BOA), who, as
hosts, are invited to enter teams in all sports.
While FIBA have been impressed with Britain's progress on
the court, there has been concern about British Basketball
acting as an umbrella organisation for the England, Scotland and
Wales basketball associations -- a situation FIBA said it would
tolerate until 2012.
"We cannot move forward indefinitely with this hybrid
model," FIBA's secretary general, Patrick Baumann, said last
week. "If Britain wants to compete at international level as
Team GB then it can only have one representative in the future."
He also stated his desire that the 2012 Games would not be
just a flash in the pan for British basketball, saying the
country's position in the sport had been "non existent".
"This is why the British basketball family needs to produce
a clear legacy plan, spelling out its vision for years to come,
long after the memories of London have begun to fade," he said.
"It would be a crying shame for a whole generation of
youngsters to be enthused by the 2012 basketball tournament only
to find they have few opportunities to play the game themselves
after the Olympic torch has been passed on."
The BOA said it welcomed the news that Britain's teams had
qualified for the Olympics and will not have to earn their
places via next year's Euro Basket tournaments.
"We are delighted that FIBA has rightfully given both the
men's and women's British basketball teams the opportunity to
compete for Team GB in front of an enthusiastic home crowd at
the London 2012 Olympic Games," BOA chief executive Andy Hunt
said in a statement on Sunday.
"Today's decision is recognition of the excellent progress
made by British Basketball on and off the court over the last
five years and represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for
the sport to significantly increase its participation and
profile, and leave a lasting legacy throughout the UK."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Stephen Wood
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