With the NBA expecting the 2020/21 season to start until this upcoming January at the earliest, the league’s players will likely not participate in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, commissioner Adam Silver said on NBATV (via NBC Sports).
“I think it’s unlikely, at the end of the day, that, if we start late, we would stop for the Olympics,” Silver said. “Because, as you know, it’s not just a function of stopping for the period in which they are competing over in Tokyo. But they require training camp, and then they require rest afterwards.”
The COVID-19 pandemic led to the 2020 Olympics to be postponed, thus casting doubt on NBA players’ ability to participate. The Olympics are set for a July 23, 2021 start, so an NBA season that begins in January or later would result in a likely conflict.
While Team USA would be the most severely impacted without the NBA’s top players available, international teams would also be affected as the league’s best international talents would be unavailable.
“There are so many incredible players, beginning with the USA team, we’ll be able to field a very competitive team,” Silver said. “I am a bit worried about some of the international teams, because, as you know, some of their stars play in our league, and their absence would make a huge difference for those national teams.”