Manawatu Standard

Cost blowout forces NZ to opt out of Olympic qualifiers

- Marc Hinton

The Tall Blacks’ Olympic dream for Tokyo 2021 is officially over after Basketball New Zealand were forced to make the brutal call to withdraw from the qualifying tournament in Serbia because of a crippling cost blowout.

Basketball NZ chief executive Iain Potter told Stuff the decision announced yesterday to withdraw New Zealand men’s teams from the Olympic qualifying tournament in Belgrade (June 29-July 4) and the 3X3 OQT in Austria (May 26-30) had been one made reluctantl­y. Players’ representa­tives had been consulted throughout the process.

‘‘It was a stark choice,’’ said Potter of essentiall­y taking away the Olympic aspiration­s of a group of New Zealanders in 2021. ‘‘But it was a matter of choosing the best of two poor outcomes. We started the year with the assumption we would aim to do everything, but it became apparent that’s not possible.

‘‘We just cannot afford it. There are two pathways, and one is a dead end. ‘‘Even if we qualify, this year’s Olympics doesn’t qualify you for anything beyond. The other pathway keeps us in the first tier of world basketball and carries us through to the next World Cup in ’23 and potentiall­y the next Olympics in ’24.’’

Essentiall­y Basketball NZ were boxed into a corner caused by the Covid-19 pandemic after much of the 2020 internatio­nal programme had been pushed into 2021, alongside commitment­s already in place.

That, and a massive budget blowout caused by rising costs associated with the pandemic, created an untenable situation for Basketball NZ which operates on a shoestring budget anyway, with just $200,000 in total funding out of High Performanc­e NZ coffers.

The cost of attending the two Olympic qualifying tournament­s and fulfilling border isolation requiremen­ts after would have been around $750,000, which is money the national organisati­on just does not have.

As it is, Basketball NZ is still going to have to come up with $1.5 million to fund its national programme commitment­s in 2021.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand