ISTANBUL

The coronavirus pandemic did serious damage to basketball as well as other professional sports, according to a top official of the International Basketball Federation or FIBA.

Kamil Novak, FIBA executive director Europe and member of the Basketball Champions League’s Board of Directors, told Anadolu Agency that it may take a year or more to evaluate the economic impact of the pandemic in basketball correctly and fully.

“It may take a year or years before we can have a correct and full assessment of the economic impact of the crisis on our sport. What is certain is that the majority of the sport’s stakeholders took a serious, unprecedented, financial hit. For example, the majority of European clubs have announced cuts to next season’s budget that vary from 20-40%,” he said.

He added that the effect of coronavirus on sports is huge and that is why they suspended all organizations in no time.

“The impact of the pandemic on our sport and every sport was enormous. As FIBA we have acted quickly to suspend all our competitions and within a few weeks and following also the postponement of the Olympics to 2021, we had created a new calendar, moving and rescheduling all our major events to 2021 and 2022. While always keeping in mind that the priority is and remains the wellbeing of the athletes, officials and fans,” Novak said.

Long-term vision 

“Our immediate goal is to confirm the credibility that BCL has earned, and its status, making certain that the clubs that decided to join BCL are pleased with the experience and see the value in their participation.”

“The long-term vision is growing the league even further but also about the role BCL can play in the greater FIBA strategy of growing clubs’ competition around the world. Last year we launched BCL Americas in Latin America, we signed the partnership with the NBA for BAL, the Basketball Africa League, and we launched the FIBA Intercontinental Cup,” he added.

Novak also recalled problems between the EuroLeague and FIBA, adding that they are open to discussions to resolve any disputes

“We are always open to discussion, always. We must build some trust between the two sides before progress is made. From our side we have already shown how serious we are by taking concrete steps to ease the burden on the European calendar, including the moving of Qualifiers days and successfully negotiating with the IOC the start on a later date of next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.”

“What we cannot negotiate the regular presence of national team in the global calendar. The Qualifiers have shown us that basketball fans are hungry for competitive home games of their national teams. Before the Qualifiers were re-introduced there have been European teams that had not played a competitive home game in over 10 years,” he said.

Novak also said that Turkish Basketball Federation has great resources and is one of the most active ones in Europe at all levels.

“They are doing a great job, also as organizers – do not forget that two of basketball most important events, the World Cup in 2010 and EuroBasket in 2017 were hosted by Turkey. Not to mention numerous other club events and Youth Championships,” he said.

He said that the withdrawal of Greek side Panathinaikos from the EuroLeague organization is a legal issue between that club and the private institution representing the Europa League.

“As the governing body of our sport it is our duty to stay in contact with all our clubs, including Panathinaikos, and we will continue to do so, regardless of which competition they play in,” he added.

* Writing by Emre Asikci

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