FIBA mulling age limit for Olympic basketball

Applying an age limit to future Olympic basketball tournaments is being discussed but will not likely affect the 2016 Rio Games, the Secretary General of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said today.

Word that an age limit was being considered drew a storm of dissent from many players competing in this year's tournament, including National Basketball Association (NBA) standouts American LeBron James and Manu Ginobili of Argentina.

FIBA chief and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Patrick Baumann said that while the NBA favours an age limit for the Olympics to save wear and tear on veteran players and increase the profile of the basketball World Cup, he did not envisage a change coming by 2016.

"I think it would be probably premature right now to make any changes in the Olympic programme, certainly not in the quality, like an idea about the age," Baumann told a small group of reporters in a roundtable before the women's bronze medal game between Australia and Russia.

"Right now we feel that there are large parts of the world that benefit from this tournament for our sport, and I think we should keep this, at least, certainly for a while."

Baumann said the only change he expected FIBA to pursue for the next Games would be the addition of four more teams to the current 12-team field in order to involve more countries and shorten the length of the tournament.

Currently the tournament format has two groups of six teams, leading to five preliminary round games. A 16-team tournament could have four groups of four and cut some days off the long Olympic schedule.

Additionally, Baumann said FIBA would push for basketball's 3-on-3 halfcourt game to be added to the Olympic programme.

Baumann said FIBA was poised to alter their calendar to move basketball's World Cup "out of the shadow" of football's World Cup, following up the 2014 world hoops championship in Spain with a next edition in 2019.

Other initiatives, including adding 50 centimetres to the three-point arc to make it conform with NBA specifications were also being considered.