With the Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July 23 through August 8, 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, FIBA has also postponed its qualifying tournaments that will decide the four open men’s basketball Olympics slots. According to a press release, those tournaments will take place from June 29 to July 4, 2021.
The four qualifying tournaments will be played in Canada (Victoria), Croatia (Split), Lithuania (Kaunas), and Serbia (Belgrade), with those countries among those still vying to be part of the 12-team field for the Olympics.
Brazil, Greece, Turkey, China, Poland, Russia, and Germany are among the other teams that will compete in the four tournaments, which will be made up of six teams apiece (24 in total). The United States, Spain, France, Australia, Nigeria, Argentina, Iran, and Japan have already qualified.
While a number of the countries competing in those qualifying tournaments could theoretically have multiple NBA players on their roster, the new dates may not line up well with the NBA’s calendar. For now, it seems likely that the start of the 2020/21 season will be postponed and that the NBA will still try to play a full 82-game schedule, which means the regular season could run into June, with the playoffs extending into August.
In that scenario, stars on likely 2021 playoff teams – such as Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece), Nikola Jokic (Serbia), and Jamal Murray (Canada), among others – could still be playing in the NBA postseason when the qualifiers take place, preventing them from participating in those tournaments.
Even if the NBA resists making major changes to its schedule and attempts to finish the 2021 Finals in June like usual, the qualifying tournaments would take place during the start of free agency, which could affect some players’ plans.