Olympics organizers are eager to get the ball rolling, or rather bouncing, as they look toward the 2020 program in Tokyo. According to the Associated Press, the International Olympic Committee is all but certain it will add 3-on-3 basketball to its ever-changing list of events.
“It would certainly be a perfect fit,” Patrick Baumann, the secretary general of world basketball’s governing body, told the news service Friday.
Baumann points to the addition of skateboarding and sport climbing to the 2020 Olympics as key factors in ushering in the additional basketball competition, which he said appeals to a demographic Olympic organizers are openly courting — the young and urban.
“The best urban team sport is 3-on-3 street basketball,” Baumann continued, pointing specifically to the popular competitions held on the Rucker Park street court in Harlem, N.Y.
The International Olympic Committee hasn’t publicly commented on which events it plans to add to the 2020 program (or which events it might drop to keep the events list at no more than 310), but it has been vocal about wanting to appeal to younger audiences more. The 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires will even feature a break-dancing competition, which it dubbed as one of the program’s “urban sports with a significant youth appeal.”
It’s unclear exactly who would compose the 3-on-3 teams. However, it’s likely the competition wouldn’t feature just NBA stars. Not only might they be busy in the traditional team competition, but the traditional game and the 3-on-3 version require different sets of skills.
“It’s really a 10-minute sprint, no coach, so you need to take the right decisions,” Baumann told the AP about the 3-on-3 competition.
This would mean an addition of about 96 male and female athletes to the 2020 Games that the IOC has ideally capped to include no more than 10,500 athletes, although the organization leaves some wiggle room if the host city objects. (More than 11,000 athletes competed in Rio de Janeiro, for example.)
FIBA, world basketball’s governing body, is acutely aware of that loose limitation as it was the reason the 3-on-3 event was not approved ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Baumann said last year, however, that he’s not against negotiating on the numbers to make sure the event gets approval this time around.
“We’ve said we’re happy to make a compromise in the sense that we’re happy to talk about our number in 5-on-5 if that helps bring 3-on-3 as long as we keep a solid and strong 5-on-5 competition,” he told USA Today in August.
The IOC is expected to make its final decisions about the 2020 program next Friday, almost a month ahead of its original schedule.
“An early decision is clearly beneficial to all the parties involved,” the IOC said Friday (via the AP).