The International Olympic Committee made a few moves relating to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro that recently went under the radar, deciding that 3-on-3 basketball will not be added as an official Olympic sport and that men’s and women’s basketball will continue to be limited to 12 teams. The news was first reported by USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt.
The decision isn’t exactly surprising as far as it relates to 3-on-3 basketball considering it has yet to truly be established and would “add to the cost and complexity of the games,” according to a statement from the IOC’s executive board. There’s a chance it could be an Olympic sport in the future, but FIBA will likely need to push harder to get it mainstream popularity before there’s any outrage over the lack of a 3-on-3 tournament at the Olympics.
The decision not to go from 12 to 16 teams is a bit more complex, however, as the plan was to shorten the amount of time it took for the basketball portion of the Olympics to play out.
The current plan is for two groups of six to play five preliminary-round games with the top four teams in each division eventually advancing to an eight-team tournament to determine that year’s champion. FIBA had counter-proposed a 16-team field split into groups of four that would play just three preliminary games — thereby speeding up the process — but that motion was denied as well.
It’s interesting that the IOC wouldn’t want more teams to be involved, especially when considering they could miss out on talent from the four potential teams — such as China, which will have an uphill battle to qualify after losing early in the FIBA Asia Championship tournament. That, along with the fact that some veteran NBA players skip the Olympics precisely because it takes up too much of their offseason and is too much of a toll on their bodies, would seem to make the shot-down plan a better option for the majority of parties involved.
As the old saying goes, though, don’t fix what ain’t broke — and that’s likely why the IOC decided to keep with tradition when making these decisions.