At the moment, Tokyo is experiencing some difficulty regarding the 2020 Olympics as work on the Olympic Stadium might not be ready in time for the January 2020 deadline, but there is one sporting event in Japan that is ready and raring to go.
The recently reinstated Japanese Basketball Federation have unveiled a new professional basketball league, which will see the old NBL and BJ Leagues merged and it be renamed the B-League.
The league office stressed that the “B” in the league’s name doesn’t just stand for ‘Basketball’, but is also meant to encompass other meanings such as “Boys” and “Be ambitious.”
The JBA were suspended by FIBA last November for failure to meet demands to unify their Japanese basketball leagues. The ban was since lifted in August at the FIBA Central Board meeting.
“I’ve told everyone, ‘Let’s make a miracle happen,’ ” said Japan Basketball Association president Saburo Kawabuchi, who led the reformation of the sport’s national governing body and the unification of the NBL and BJ-league as a co-chairman of the Japan 2024 Task Force, at a Tokyo news conference on Tuesday.
“Along with professional baseball (NPB) and J. League [football], we want [the new basketball league] to become one of the biggest professional sports, and grow with the interest and support from everyone.”
The 78-year-old Kawabuchi, one of the J-League football founders will not be overseeing the new basketball league. Taking the reins of the new venture will be current JBA secretary general Masaaki Okawa.
“The two leagues will be unified and the new professional league will begin,” said the 57-year-old Okawa, who served as a right-hand-man for Kawabuchi in the J. League as a managing director.
“And to make it keep growing, I’m thrilled to carry the big role.”
The JPBL, which will operate the B-League, also announced 11 newly elected board members, who were appointed before the official unveiling.
The group includes former Olympic taekwondo bronze medalist Yoriko Okamoto, who also serves as a Japan Taekwondo Association board member, and Daisuke Nakanishi, the current J. League managing director.
The new league is set to commence in 2016, after the Rio Olympics with an eye on improving the country’s basketball status overall in preparation for the Tokyo Games.
The women’s national side, currently ranked 15 in the FIBA rankings has qualified for next year’s Olympics and while the men are classified much lower in their category in 47th, both are aiming to secure automatic qualification for the Tokyo Games as hosts.
But, like the problems facing the Olympic Stadium, it will be a work in progress.