The basketball of the Olympic Games in Paris could go to a venue outside the capital

Most basketball games at the Paris Olympics could be played within three hours of the French capital, an idea that was criticized on Wednesday by the sport’s international federation.

Paris organizers have been unable to find a suitable venue for matches ahead of the knockout stages at the 2024 tournament, and are now considering using the soccer stadium in Lille, a city 210 kilometers (130 miles) from Paris.

The original plan was to compete in an arena in the capital, but that scenario was scrapped in March after complaints from French NBA players who warned that the ceiling was too low for basketball practice.

“We don’t think our players should be subject to the conditions that are being put forward right now,” said Andreas Zagklis, FIBA’s general secretary, speaking to organizers of the summer games on Wednesday. He added that the governing body is “very concerned.”

If Lille receives the go-ahead, the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would not arrive in Paris until the final days of the Games, which will take place between July 26 and August 11.

The discipline is expected to be one of the most attractive in Paris, given the presence of NBA and WNBA figures and the popularity of basketball in France.

Playing in Lille, located in the northeast and close to the Belgian border, would prevent players from spending the night in the Olympic Village in Paris or having to make three-hour transfers, Zagklis said during a meeting of the umbrella organization for Olympic sports. in Lausanne.

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Lille’s stadium has a retractable roof and has in the past hosted continental soccer and basketball tournaments, as well as a Davis Cup tennis final.

At the Tokyo Games last year, the entire basketball program was staged at the Saitama Super Arena. The United States took gold medals in both categories, with NBA stars like Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum and WNBA stars like Sue Bird and Brittney Griner.

Responding to the FIBA ​​official, the president of the Paris organizing committee Tony Estanguet acknowledged that “we are not in a situation that is not easy due to the crises” that are shaking the world.

“We have to find solutions to maintain a level that fits as well as possible within our budget limits,” said Estanguet, who won three Olympic gold medals in canoeing.

He repeatedly used the word “optimize” when referring to efficient spending in terms of a budget that has been set at 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion).

The medal matches at Paris 2024 will be played at the Arena Paris-Bercy, with a capacity of 15,000 spectators. It will be the stage for the gymnastics during the first week of the games.

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