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D-Day in Mies

Decision-Day to settle the winning bid for the hosting rights of the 2023 FIBA World Cup will be on Dec. 9 during the FIBA Central Board meeting, where the vote is in the agenda, at the FIBA headquarters in Mies, a town near Geneva in Switzerland.

The contenders are Turkey, Russia, a joint effort by Argentina and Uruguay and a consortium made up of the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. Countries that had expressed interest to bid were Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Poland, Serbia and Qatar.

Turkey staged the 2010 World Cup and hopes to do it again, this time to coincide with the celebration of the republic’s 100th anniversary in 2023. Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko is pushing for his country to host with, according to sources, strong backing from President Vladimir Putin. It’s no secret that Putin is a basketball fan. In 2003, he issued a decree granting Russian citizenship to American player J. R. Holden to gain eligibility as a naturalized import for the Russian national team. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, CSKA club CEO Sergei Kushchenko and the Russian State Sports Committee lobbied for Holden’s dual citizenship. With Holden in harness, Russia won the 2007 Eurobasket title.

Argentina and Uruguay combined with Colombia in a three-way hosting of the FIBA AmeriCup this year. Horacio Muratore of Argentina is the incumbent FIBA president. Argentina hosted the World Cup in 1950 and 1990 while Uruguay took its turn in 1967.

The Philippines hosted the World Cup in 1978 and failed in a bid against China to stage the 2019 edition. SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan said the bid for 2023 is more formidable than the 2019 tender as it consolidates the resources of Japan and Indonesia in promoting FIBA’s goal to grow the sport globally.

The FIBA Evaluation Commission, composed of Central Board members Hamane Niang of Mali and Ingo Weiss of Germany and senior technical consultant Lubomir Kotleba of Slovakia, was recently in town to inspect the proposed facilities in the plan to host the 2023 event. The Commission previously visited Russia, Argentina, Uruguay, Japan and Indonesia on similar inspection tours. It is scheduled to visit Turkey this week.

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Turkey said it has venues to welcome the 32 teams in the 2023 World Cup. “We have applied as a single host so we can reach a large majority of our country’s basketball fans by hosting the event in cities across the nation, allowing us to build passion for the sport in a wider range of communities,” said the Turkish Basketball Federation. “The cities that have been selected are all established basketball centers in our country that are also major tourist destinations. Each has excellent air connectivity – with just over an hour’s travel time between each – to provide a great experience for spectators and teams and an efficient operation for all client groups.”

Turkey hosted the FIBA World Cup for Men in 2010 and for Women in 2014 so it’s no stranger to holding major basketball competitions. But if Turkey’s aim is to promote the sport further to its population of 78.7 million, the number pales in comparison to the combined population of nearly 500 million in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. Besides, if FIBA’s goal is to expand markets, why go back to Turkey? The plan is to hold preliminary games in Ankara, Antalya, Istanbul and Izmir then the playoffs will be exclusively in Istanbul.

Russia’s bid is focused on mobilizing the VTB Arena Dynamo Central Stadium in Moscow, Sibur Arena in St. Petersburg, Basketball Hall in Kazan and Universal Sports Palace Molot in Perm. 

“We are prepared to make it a city-wide celebration of basketball in our three biggest cities, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kazan,” the Russian Basketball Federation said. “We will run a series of workshops and charity events aimed at children in orphanages and foster homes by engaging basketball stars and legends. We will have fan zones that will give the opportunity to watch the best games in a comfortable setting for those who cannot attend the games in the venues. We plan on having our main basketball forum tour different cities of the country. Running ExpoBasket alongside the World Cup will create a unique basketball atmosphere all over the city. This event will not be forgotten by its residents and guest fans alike. The forum will also feature an extensive business program that empowers sports business representatives and high-profile individuals interested in basketball in Russia.”

The Argentina-Uruguay bid will tap the Orfeo Arena in Cordoba, Islas Malvinas Arena in Mar del Plata, Villa Deportiva Arena in Mendoza, ANTEL Arena in Montevideo and Buenos Aires Arena.

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