OCTOBER 26 - PLANS to split the basketball between two different sites at London 2012 would be a "giant step backwards" for the sport, the head of the NBA said today.
London's Olympic bid included plans for a £60 million, purpose built basketball arena to stage the early round matches with the semi-finals and finals being staged at the O2, but the 12,000 seat stadium has been included in a cost review by accountants KPMG and could be scrapped.
Organisers are understood to be considering playing the bulk of the 70-plus games at Wembley Arena with the finals and semi-finals being held at the 02 as planned.
But NBA chief executive David Stern criticised the move, saying facilities at Wembley were "outdated".
He predicted basketball would be one of the most in-demand sports at the Games and should have its own venue.
Stern said: "The Beijing Olympic basketball arena was the venue for all the Games and despite the early assurances that there would be a state-of-the-art arena [in London] that would have the basketball competition, we understand there is some consideration for a giant step backwards."
He said he was "somewhat exercised" by the prospect of games going to Wembley but praised the 02 as "spectacular".
As reported on insidethegames last week, the general secretary of the world governing body FIBA, Patrick Baumman, claimed that the sport is being made to feel "unwelcome" by London 2012 and he planned to write to officials and the Government to complain.