FIBA officially bans Japan from international basketball

The world body governing basketball has made it official; the Japan Basketball Association is suspended, meaning Japanese national teams are banned from international competitions, including the Olympics.

FIBA made the announcement after efforts to convince the JBA to merge the 22-team Basketball Japan League and the National Basketball League with its 13 teams failed.  FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann says, “FIBA regrets that the situation has reached such a point of no return.  However, we are convinced that after so many years of warnings and struggle, and for the good of basketball in Japan, it is absolutely time to make important changes to the structures of the JBA and of the domestic competitions.

The Japanese Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister, Hakubun Shimomura, is still holding out hopes he can convince the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to reconsider.  Talking with reporters, Shimomura said Baumann has asked for a meeting to discuss finding a way to create a merger of the country’s two professional basketball leagues.  The meeting, if it is to happen, most likely will come in mid-December after the Japanese Lower House elections.

“We’ll see if we can’t establish a path by all coming together as one,” says Shimomura.  The Japanese women’s team stands to be punished most by the FIBA decision.  The team stands a good chance of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics after capturing its first Asian Championship in 43 years.

FIBA hasn’t set a time limit on the ban, but Baumann says he would certainly like to have the matter resolved ahead of the 2020 Olympics, which are to be held in Tokyo.  “We want a successful Tokyo 2020 basketball tournament,” says Baumann,  “with participation of both Japanese men’s and women’s teams.”

The friction between the National Basketball League and Basketball Japan League led to rejection of merger proposals.  The NBL is comprised of corporate teams and clubs, while the BJL functions more independently.  FIBA rules clearly require that basketball in a country must be run under full control of one governing entity, which is not now the case in Japan.