Olympics

FIBA to rule by March on British Olympic status

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ISTANBUL (AP)

Britain will know by next spring whether its basketball teams will earn a spot in the 2012 London Olympics.

While most Olympic host nations automatically qualify for the games, governing body FIBA wants to see progress in Britain's basketball programs before giving the men's and women's teams places in the 2012 tournament.

''We have always said that Team GB needs to be competitive and we have been impressed by both the performance of the Team GB men and women in qualifying for next year's EuroBasket,'' FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann said after a board meeting at the world championships in Istanbul.

''However, our concern is the long-term development of basketball in Great Britain and what the legacy will be for the game once the 2012 Olympics in London are over.''

Baumann is writing to the British federation to specify the steps needed for qualification. A decision on whether the teams qualify will be made early next year, probably in March.

''It is always of value to have the host nation playing in the Olympic basketball tournament and we have no doubt the British public will support the competition,'' Baumann said.

The British men's team is led by Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng. The men's European Championship will be played in Lithuania in September 2011.

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