International Basketball Federation (FIBA) President Hamane Niang has said he is proud of the efforts of the governing body in ensuring events could be held safely in 2020.
In a New Year’s message, the FIBA President highlighted the staging of recent FIBA Continental Cup Qualifiers, the Basketball Champions League and Basketball Champions League Americas as proof the sport can operate safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
The 3x3 World Tour season also recently concluded with five events held.
"The successful and consistent implementation of extensive precautionary measures has led to these events being successful," Niang said.
"There was stringent testing, before and during events of all persons, not just athletes, all people entering bubbles.
"Thanks to the preparatory work of the Medical Commission, the Competitions Commission and other experts, and the consistent decision-making by the Central Board, the Executive Committee and the Zone Boards, FIBA has been able to deliver safe competitions on all continents.
"Delivering these competitions has only been possible thanks to extraordinary teamwork from the regional offices and our headquarters and I want to thank every person who was part of this."
Niang highlighted the publication of the "Return to Basketball – Restart Guidelines for National Federations”"as well as the Basketball Arbitral Tribunal COVID-19 Guidelines, which he said helped the sport’s resumption.
Innovation was also cited as a success in 2020, with skills challenges and investment in Esports coming in a year where events were heavily impacted by the pandemic.
FIBA said it organised 250 webinars in two months, with participation from more than 150 National Federations and more than 80,000 individuals.
Niang said FIBA is aiming to empower National Federations, increase the number of women playing, coaching and officiating, and grow the sport’s visibility and popularity in the coming years as part of its strategic plan.
He also looked forward to major events in the coming year, including the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the start of qualification for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
"We are looking forward to 2021 and the highly anticipated FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments to be held in Canada, Croatia, Lithuania and Serbia, along with the 3x3 Olympic Qualifying Tournaments as well,” Niang said.
"And then of course there are the Olympic Games in Tokyo with the historic 3x3 debut, that we have all been looking forward to.
"For basketball, it will be the first time that 12 Olympic medals will be up for grabs at the Olympic Games.
"The Basketball Africa League (BAL) launch is also another exciting moment that will take place in 2021.
"Building on FIBA's current club competitions in Africa, the BAL marks the NBA's first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.
"We are very excited to be working on this competition jointly with the NBA and I am sure we will witness some magnificent basketball moments once the league tips off.
"The journey to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 will continue in 2021, with the start of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Qualifiers tipping off in November 2021.
"We will witness 80 teams taking the court for a chance to play in FIBA's flagship event, which will be hosted for the first time across three nations - the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia."