COVID-19 postponed the Olympics last year and is creating havoc in the men’s basketball competition with the Tokyo games just a week away. After Team USA lost Bradley Beal and had Jerami Grant placed under health and safety protocols on Thursday, the day ended with an announcement that today’s exhibition game between the U.S. and Australia has been canceled, tweets Marc Stein.
A press release cited “an abundance of caution” and stated that today’s women’s game between the two nations will go on as planned. Both American teams are slated to wrap up their exhibition schedules Sunday, with the men facing Spain and the women taking on Nigeria.
The Australian men’s team is operating under even stricter protocols than the U.S., which may have contributed to the cancellation, sources told Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Windhorst notes that players have limitations while in Las Vegas for the exhibitions, but they can freely move around their hotels and visit casinos. Because players’ family and friends won’t be allowed to attend the games in Tokyo, USA Basketball welcomed them to Vegas and has them in testing protocols.
“It’s costing people opportunities of a lifetime,” Draymond Green said Thursday after the announcement that Beal won’t be able to play in the Olympics. “We all came in hoping we wouldn’t be affected by it. It’s just not the way it’s gone.”
Officials from USA Basketball held meetings Thursday to decide on a replacement on Beal. Players from the 57-man roster that was announced in March will receive consideration, Windhorst adds, and coach Gregg Popovich said conditioning could be a factor with most NBA players well into the offseason.
“We have to make sure somebody is in shape because we don’t have time once we get there with just a couple of practices,” Popovich said. “It’s going to take a certain individual that we think can pick it all up quickly.”