Britain has withdrawn from its FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifier in Belarus "because of the potential risks involved" ©

Britain has pulled out of its 2023 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Basketball World Cup qualifier in Belarus amid growing concerns of the crisis involving neighbouring Ukraine and Russia.

The British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has advised against all travel to six regions of Belarus, and against all but essential travel to the remainder of the country, including its capital Minsk.

It has also urged against all travel to Ukraine, and told British residents situated in the country to leave "while commercial options remain".

The British Basketball Federation (BBF) confirmed that it had held an emergency Board meeting and consulted with its men's team's staff and players, before opting not to travel to Belarus "because of the potential risks involved".

The match had been due to be held in Minsk on Friday (February 25)

It hopes to rearrange the game in a different location or at a different time, although this is subject to an agreement with FIBA.

Britain are due to welcome Belarus on February 28 in the return fixture, with an update on its status yet to be provided.

BBF's interim chair Toni Minichiello explained that the decision had been made in the interests of safety of the British delegation.

"With the news reports of growing tensions in the region, the published advice of the Home Office, and a meeting to gauge the feelings and concerns of both the players and staff, the Board made the decision that the team’s safety and wellbeing is the only priority," Minichiello commented.

"We await to hear from FIBA, but hope that we will be able to play in another location or on another date if FIBA sanctions that."

Britain had been due to face Belarus in Minsk on Friday, with both teams having three points in Group B ©
Britain had been due to face Belarus in Minsk on Friday, with both teams having three points in Group B ©

Britain's captain Dan Clark added: "We are happy that the welfare of the travelling group has been put first when making this difficult decision.

"It is every player's dream to represent their country at senior level, but some things are bigger than basketball and the current situation in that part of the world is extremely worrying.

"We look forward to working with FIBA to deliver a practical solution as soon as possible."

FIBA told insidethegames: "FIBA has made several security assessments concerning the current situation in Ukraine. 

"The latest one received today confirms FIBA's decision to proceed with the game as scheduled.

"Players' safety is FIBA's primary concern, and we will constantly evaluate the situation to ensure their safety is not compromised. 

"Unless the situation changes, the game between Great Britain and Belarus stands as originally scheduled for February 25, 2022."

Border tensions are escalating between Ukraine and Russia.

Estimates from the United States Government suggest that up to 190,000 Russian troops have been stationed along Ukraine's border, having been built up since late last year.

This includes those stationed in Belarus, for whom Russia is its most important ally.

Belarus Ministry of Defence has confirmed an extension of joint military drills with Russia that had been due to end on Sunday.

Western nations including the US have expressed fears that Russia is planning a full-scale military operation in Ukraine.

Joint military exercises have been held by Belarus and Russia amid concerns over a potential invasion of Ukraine ©Getty Images
Joint military exercises have been held by Belarus and Russia amid concerns over a potential invasion of Ukraine ©Getty Images

Economic sanctions have been threatened in the event of an invasion, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claiming the country could work with the US to stop Russian companies from "trading in pounds and dollars".

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has criticised Western nations for their "appeasement policy".

Moscow has asked for assurances that Ukraine will not be admitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but has consistently denied that it is planning an invasion.

US President Joe Biden has agreed "in principle" to hold a summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over the crisis as a diplomatic solution is sought, following a pitch to both leaders by French President Emmanuel Macron.

At the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, Ukrainian skeleton athlete Vladyslav Heraskevych displayed a banner calling for "No War in Ukraine", while International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach urged political leader to be inspired by athletes' "example of solidarity and peace".

Bach cited an embrace between the Russian Olympic Committee's Ilya Burov and Ukraine's Alexander Abramenko after both won medals in the men's aerials event.

Belarus top Group B of European qualifying for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, while Britain are bottom.

However, all four teams - the others being Turkey and Greece - have three points to their name after a win each from their opening two matches.

The top-three sides in the group advance to the second round of European qualifying for next year's World Cup in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.