Ukraine still to host EuroBasket tournament

Last updated 15:40 20/03/2014

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The European basketball federation denied reports on Wednesday (local time) that Ukraine has pulled out of hosting next year's continental championship amid political and economic turmoil.

FIBA Europe said its board will "discuss all recent developments regarding EuroBasket 2015" at a meeting this weekend in Munich, Germany.

Earlier Wednesday (local time), the tournament director said Ukraine had withdrawn from the 24-team event, citing political uncertainty over Russia's annexation of Crimea and serious financial pressures.

Organizing committee head Markiyan Lubkivsky said he "cannot imagine how to carry out preparations in the current severe economic and political conditions."

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to incorporate Crimea into Russia following a referendum in which residents of the region overwhelmingly backed the move.

Ukraine was awarded the biennial championship in December 2011, which is scheduled to be played in five cities: Kiev, Donetsk, Lviv, Odessa, Kharkiv and Dniprpetrovsk.

"It would be fair as we have already done a lot of preparation (and) started to construct the arenas that might be unfinished," Lubkivsky said. "There is a need to resolve hard social issues of higher priority."

Lubkivsky condemned "the aggression of Russia toward Ukraine that has caused instability and threatens the security of southeastern regions of Ukraine."

FIBA Europe said it was assured by the Ukrainian Basketball Federation (FBU) that Lubkivsky was expressing "a purely private viewpoint."

The Ukrainian body said it was currently "reorganizing the local organising committee to optimize its financial needs and use more effectively all resources to carry out the EuroBasket 2015 in Ukraine."

France has offered to replace Ukraine as host.

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- AP

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