International Basketball Federation (FIBA) President Horacio Muratore claims a door has been opened for the 3×3 version of his sport to be showcased at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
It follows the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to promote a more flexible program as part of its Agenda 2020 reform process, in which new sports and disciplines are considered.
Although the practical repercussions of these changes still remain unclear, baseball and softball are thought to be the most likely to reap the benefits and be included in Tokyo, due to the huge popularity of the sports in Japan.
Squash, karate and skateboarding are among others campaigning for admission, while many other sports already on the program are proposing new disciplines and events.
But 3 x 3, the innovative form of its five-a-side cousin which was first showcased to the world at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, has several influential supporters within the IOC.
“This is a step forward that gives us big hope that at the 2020 Olympics the Organising Committee will include 3 × 3 as an additional event,” Muratore told Agence France-Presse.
“It is our goal to strengthen 3 × 3 worldwide and be part of the Olympics.
“At the last Youth Olympics in Nanjing, countries that you would usually never hear of in traditional 5 × 5, such as Andorra, Iraq, Qatar, Guam, smaller nations, are now actually making it on the international stage.”
As well as at Nanjing 2014, 3 x 3 basketball was also included at many other multi-sport events last year, including the Asian Beach Games in Phuket.
In June this year it is due to feature at the inaugural European Games in Baku, instead of five-a-side basketball.
There appears no chance of five-a-side basketball losing its Olympic place, but after a rapid upsurge in popularity in recent years, inclusion for 3 x 3 would offer many benefits to an Olympic Movement keen to boost its appeal to youth populations.
Last year, FIBA secretary general and IOC member Patrick Baumann told insidethegames that 3 x 3 basketball was the “future of the sport”.
But, due to the IOC’s reluctance to increase the total number of events and athletes at the Games, if it is to be successful in its Olympic ambition 3 x 3 basketball may have to fend off competition from other sports seeking to add new events.
These include mixed team competitions proposed by several sports, including archery, cycling and triathlon.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, insidethegames.