Venezuela and Turkey have been named as hosts for the upcoming Olympic Basketball Qualifying Tournament just before the main event comes to London in late July.
Ankara has had experience in hosting major basketball events before, and there have been no immediate critics about having the Turkish capital as the destination for the women’s event which runs from June 25th-July 1st.
The Ankara Arena is likely to house the women’s tournament, which will include Argentina, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Japan, Korea, Mali, Mozambique, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and, of course Turkey themselves. The venue hosted the group stages of the 2010 world championship, which featured the hosts.
Those 12 teams will be competing for five remaining Olympic places.
The critics however have slammed FIBA’s choice of giving the men’s tournament to Venezuela the week after the women’s event has been decided.
Fans have let their opinions be known on Facebook and Twitter that having the tournament so far away from London is a bad move and some have even questioned the high crime rate in the South American nation, and that the fans that will travel to the capital Caracas might fear for their own safety.
Remember 2008? The Olympics were hosted in Beijing, China – but the Olympic Qualifying Tournament was staged in Athens, Greece.
Yuredyth Michelle Aguilar, a Venezuelan, now making a living in England thinks that Caracas will be fantastic hosts come July 2nd.
“Fans will very much enjoy their stay, as long as they stay with their group and visit the safe areas which are plenty,” Michelle said.
“Venezuelans are very passionate about sports and I think they will provide a great atmosphere for the teams and the overseas fans.”
She went on to say: “It’s time to give the country a chance to prove that they are indeed capable of dealing with an event of this prestige. Plus, I went there recently with my boyfriend who has never been there before, and he loved it.”
Let’s not forget FIFA’s decision to hold the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. There was stories littered in newspaper outlets across the globe about the state of the country at the time. Its high crime rate which mainly included robberies and the severe risk of catching aids were main talking points.
The tournament though proved to be a major success.
Since South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1995, the country has been screaming out for a sporting event to boost its appeal and reputation. The FIFA World Cup did that.
FIBA have decided that after having a four-year grip on their major tournaments, Europe should take a back seat this time and let other continents bask in the basketball limelight.
China hosted the 2008 Olympics and, of course, Beijing’s basketball hall saw USA secure the gold medal. But since then, Europe has been the centre of the international basketball circuit.
So, what’s wrong with giving South America, and especially Venezuela a little attention? Something to boost the country’s economy and a chance to put basketball in the spotlight? In a nation that hosted a highly successful football Copa America in 2007 and, let’s not forget that they themsleves have a shot of qualifying for the Olympic basketball tournament in London via the qualifiers.
From July 2nd-July 8th, all eyes will be on the Poliedro de Caracas (pictured above) in the Venezuelan capital, as the hosts will be matched-up with Angola, Dominican Republic, FYR of Macedonia, Greece, Jordan, Korea, Lithuania, New Zealand, Nigeria, Puerto Rico and Russia. They will fight for the last three Olympic spots.
Venezuela not only wants to prove that they can host an Olympic event, but that they can feature in the main event in London on July 29th. The South American country hasn’t been on the Olympic hardwood since Barcelona 1992, and with 13,000 people possibly behind them in Caracas. They have quite possibly their best shot.