NBA player status for Olympics up in air; International Olympic Committee looks at options

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The novel coronavirus has shut down or postponed sporting events around the globe, from the Kentucky Derby to soccer’s Premier League.

And, of course, the NBA has suspended play, and is optimistically hoping to resume games in June and have a Finals that stretch into July or August.

That would clash with the Tokyo Olympics, which remain scheduled to start on July 24.

USA Basketball’s training camp is scheduled to start before the Fourth of July, which would overlap with a potential sizeable chunk of the NBA playoffs this summer. The Spurs’ Gregg Popovich coaches Team USA and the list of finalists to make his squad might have to be cut back dramatically because guys will be busy with their paying jobs. Plus, how many players will feel safe and want to add international travel to a crowded event as part of their summer plans?

If the Olympics go off as scheduled, USA Basketball’s entry may look very different than we envisioned. USA Basketball has been in touch with players but has not altered plans yet, only because everything — including the timing of the Olympics themselves — is up in the air.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced it is going to spend the next four weeks looking at potentially postponing the Tokyo Olympics.

The IOC is under a lot of pressure. Canada became the first nation to say it would not send athletes to the games due to health and safety concerns if the Olympics take place as scheduled. The qualifying events for the games in a number of nations — including the United States — have been disrupted. Beyond that, training schedules for athletes have been thrown off as they tried to ramp up their conditioning to hit a peak in July for the games. That includes a lot of swimmers, which is why USA Swimming came out and asked for a postponement.

The fact that basketball — one of the marquee, star-filled events of the games — could be without NBA players (not just Team USA but also France, Spain, Australia, Argentina, and the list goes on) will be a factor in the decision making.

The IOC noted in their press release about considering postposing the games — maybe a few months, maybe a year — that the logistics of such a move are not easy.

“A number of critical venues needed for the Games could potentially not be available anymore. The situations with millions of nights already booked in hotels is extremely difficult to handle, and the international sports calendar for at least 33 Olympic sports would have to be adapted.”

Whatever the IOC decides, the NBA is moving ahead with a priority of playing its games this summer if at all possible.