Ukraine has formally asked FIBA Europe to step down as hosts for Eurobasket 2015 but has expressed a desire to stage the tournament in 2017.
The decision, which has not come as a surprise to many is due to the ongoing political and financial unrest in the country, as tension continues to rise following Russian president Vladimir Putin defying protests from the West and signing a treaty allowing Crimea to be part of the Russian Federation again.
“I cannot imagine how to carry out preparations in the current severe economic and political conditions,” Eurobasket 2015 tournament director Markiyan Lubkivsky said in a statement.
“The first and main unfavourable condition is the aggression of Russia towards Ukraine that has caused instability and threatens the security of South-Eastern regions of Ukraine.
“This situation demands for Ukraine to review our priorities and concentrate financial and political resources for saving territorial integrity and even independence.”
Ukraine isn’t only going through a political problem, which earlier in the year saw mass protests in the capital Kiev and also in Kharkiv but it is going through hard times, financially. The venues originally picked for next year’s tournament have to undergo refurbishment and Lubkivsky is unsure the venues will be ready on time.
The other factor is a complicated financial situation. There is a need to resolve hard social issues of higher priority,” Lubkivsky added in the statement.
“It is obvious our country cannot afford to support private investors building the arenas or fund preparations that we are responsible for. Moreover, the local organising committee feels [there is a] lack of time.”
So far, multiple sources have named France and Germany as possible front-runners to take over as the hosts for next year, or possibly as co-hosts. The Czech Republic have also been rumoured to be interested as well.
Moving forward, Ukraine have expressed an interest in hosting Eurobasket in 2017, and with the country hoping to go ahead and build closer ties with the EU, there is every possibility that FIBA Europe could make that happen.
“With regard to the ongoing events I think we have the right to ask FIBA to grant Ukraine the opportunity to stage the tournament in 2017, in trusting the championship in 2015 to some other European country or even a few,” Lubkivsky said.
“It would be fair as we have already done a lot of preparation [and] started to construct the arenas that might be unfinished.”