The British Olympic Association (BOA) today gave their full support to the participation of Great Britain’s male and female basketball players as part of Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Following a detailed consultation with British Basketball, the BOA confirmed that basketball has met and exceeded the stringent performance and legacy criteria established by the BOA and required to merit inclusion in Team GB.
Basketball is unique among team sports in the Olympic Games as the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) retains the power to decide whether to grant a host nation place. Therefore Team GB representation in basketball at London 2012 is dependent upon the decision from FIBA, which is expected on 13th March.
In showing their full support, Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt and BOA Athletes Commission Chair Sarah Winckless signed the giant ‘SayYes’ campaign basketball vest in the presence of basketballer Sarah McKay and the British Basketball leadership at the BOA headquarters today.
Team GB Chef de Mission and BOA CEO Andy Hunt said:
“Basketball in Great Britain has made excellent progress since the introduction of the British Federation in 2006, with both the men’s and women’s teams qualifying as group winners for the EuroBasket Championships in 2011. They have surpassed expectations and there is no question that they are now capable of producing credible performances at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“British Basketball has demonstrated to us a strong legacy plan for developing the next generation of players and coaches towards the 2016 Olympic Games and beyond, with the ultimate aspiration of qualifying for future Olympic Games by right. In terms of grass roots participation, there has been significant growth in basketball since 2006 and it is now the third most popular team sport played monthly in the UK, after football and cricket. The potential for continued growth and future success is tremendous.
“British Basketball is hugely ambitious for the future of the sport across our nation. We are very confident that, given the opportunity by FIBA, British Basketball will use the London 2012 Olympics as a catalyst to fulfil the potential that exists for the growth in popularity of the sport in the UK.
“We were very pleased to see the supportive comments made by FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann in response to the ongoing ‘Say Yes’ campaign and we see absolutely no reason why both the men’s and women’s British teams should not receive a positive decision from FIBA on March 13th.
“We fully support Britain’s basketball players in their quest to inspire the home crowd with their performances at London 2012.”
Team GB Deputy Chef de Mission and BOA Director of Sport Clive Woodward said:
“GB Basketball’s steady improvement in their performances on the court over the last five years are testament to the dedication of the players and coaches and I believe they have earned their place at the London 2012 Olympics. Last year was Britain’s most successful in international basketball history as both the men’s and women’s teams qualified for their respective 2011 EuroBasket Championships as group winners, confirming their places in the top 16 in Europe.
“The future of British basketball looks bright, with the introduction of the Great Britain Futures men’s team last year and the success of the women’s under-20 team winning the Euro-Basket B Division. I have no doubt that, given the opportunity, Britain’s basketball players would do the nation proud in 2012 and inspire many more young people to get involved with this exciting sport in the UK for many years to come.”
British Basketball Chairman Bill McInnes said:
“This is great news for basketball in Britain. The prospect of Great Britain athletes being meaningful members of the Olympic Team, Team GB, in 2012 is brilliant. This BOA decision also recognises the support of the Home Nation Associations and their commitment to the future development of the sport. Our international federation FIBA, which has provided exceptional support during the past five years, will be considering the allocation of the 2012 host country places for basketball at its Central Board meeting on the 13th of March. I am sure that today’s decision will provide an additional boost to the case for the GB teams to be part of 2012.”
British Basketball Performance Director Chris Spice said:
“The organisational structure of basketball in Great Britain involves three independent home country federations (England, Scotland and Wales), each of which is separately affiliated to the international federation FIBA. Before 2005, each country competed individually in international competitions at senior and all age group levels. Since 1992 there have been no Great Britain teams at international level and neither has there been a British federation recognised by FIBA.
“In 2006, the BBF was formed by the three home country federations and Great Britain took to the court in the B Division of the European Championships. Since then their rise to the top table of European basketball has been spectacular. The summer of 2008 saw British Basketball take further strides on the world basketball stage when the senior men's team qualified for Eurobasket 2009 and repeated the feat in great style by winning their qualifying group in 2010 for Lithuania. With world renowned coach Tom Maher leading the GB women’s team they won their A division qualifying group in 2010 and will take to the court later this year for the first time in Poland for the Women’s Eurobasket 2011.”
Great Britain Men’s Basketball Captain Drew Sullivan (from London) said:
“With the upcoming decision from FIBA fast approaching it's great that we have the full support of the British Olympic Association. I believe it's extremely important for the continued success of basketball in this country that we show togetherness. Hopefully FIBA can recognise this and grant us our place in the 2012 Olympics.”
Great Britain Women’s Basketball Player Sarah McKay said:
“Having the British Olympic Association on board is a big boost for us as a programme and hopefully FIBA will follow and give us the chance to show the rest of the world what we can do.”
As the National Olympic Committee for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the BOA, among its many duties, is responsible for approving the eligibility and entry of all British athletes who compete as members of Team GB at the Olympic Games.
The Olympic Qualifying Standards Panel is currently working with the National Governing Bodies to finalise and approve the qualification standards and pathway to London 2012 for every sport. In many cases, sports will qualify for the Games through their performance in specific international events. For a select group of sports, however, the qualification process may involve the use of a Host Nation Qualification Place.
For the London 2012 Olympic Games, the BOA has stipulated that any sport seeking to utilise a Host Nation Qualification Place must first demonstrate the following:
1) The ability to deliver a credible performance during the London 2012 Games.
2) A long-term strategy to deliver a meaningful legacy as a result of the profile and visibility associated with competing in the Games, with a particular emphasis on increasing opportunities for participation by athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers at the grassroots level.
The decision to permit British Basketball, which is the National Governing Body for basketball in Great Britain, to utilise the Host Nation Qualification Places was made by the Olympic Qualifying Standards Panel, which among others includes Hunt; the Chair of the BOA Athletes Commission Sarah Winckless; and the BOA’s Director of Sport Sir Clive Woodward. The decision was made following detailed consultation with British Basketball.