The National Basketball Association (NBA) is unlikely to have a break next season when the postponed Olympics are held, league commissioner Adam Silver said, casting doubt on the availability of NBA players for the Tokyo Games.
The Olympics were postponed by a year, to July/August next year, owing to the Covid-19 coronavirus, which also led to the suspension of the NBA season.
And it led to a delay in the start of the new season and a conflict in schedules.
The NBA season usually runs from October to June, but, with the 2019/20 finals series now finishing this month, the new season is expected to begin in January, with plans for the usual 82-game campaign and playoffs set to follow.
“We’ll consider it. I think it’s unlikely that if we start late we would stop for the Olympics,” Silver told NBA TV.
“It’s not just a function of stopping for the period in which they are competing over in Tokyo; [the players] require a training camp and then they require rest afterwards.”
Since professional basketball players were allowed to compete at the Olympics, beginning with the 1992 games in Barcelona, Spain, the US has won six out of seven gold medals, with star-studded squads made up primarily of NBA players.
With more than 100 international players in the NBA, Silver added that he had concerns for other countries, some of which were yet to qualify for the Olympics and would be competing in qualifiers next year.
“There are so many incredible players, beginning with the US team. We’ll be able to field a very competitive team,” Silver said.
“I’m a bit worried about some of the international teams because some of their stars play in our league and their absence will make a huge difference for those national teams.
“I’d only say that these are such extraordinary circumstances that, even if we set out to plan for the Olympics, how can they even know what the world is going to be like next summer and whether they can go forward?