FIBA's Europe Executive Committee has just announced that their decision to postpone the FIBA U18 European Championship that was set to take place in Samsun, Turkey from July 30th to August 7th indefinitely.
The Committee decided that, given the state of Turkey's government following the military coup, it would be best to postpone the games until further notice. In addition to concerns from the parents and players alike, several National Federations expressed deep concerns about sending their children into a hostile environment. While there has been no specific threat made against the tournament, the move was a welcomed site.
In a brief conversation with Ridiculous Upside, elite Finnish prospect Elias Valtonen had this to say on the decision:
"We heard the news today and I am personally a little disappointed (and our team is also)" said Valtonen, "But we can't do (anything) but accept that. We hope that the next location and time will (be found) soon."
While there is no set plan for a future date yet, the Secretariat of FIBA Europe is exploring options to play the tournament either at the end of the calendar year or early 2017. It is not clear if FIBA Europe plans on trying to keep Samsun as the site for the future tournament or if they will relocate altogether. The eligibility of the current national team members will not be affected, so anyone that ages out before the tournament is played will still be welcomed to participate.
FIBA also wanted to make it clear that it stands behind the Turkish Basketball Federation in this time of turmoil. In a statement released today, they offered their support and praise to TBF for their excellent organizational skills and competence in these tough times.
No one wants to see a youth tournament that celebrates unity and camaraderie interrupted by violence and turmoil. While it is unfortunate to have the top youth talent in Europe miss out on an experience like this, player and fan safety should always come first. FIBA Europe and the TBF did the right thing by postponing the games. Given FIBA's large reach and support worldwide, a new and safe site shouldn't be hard to come by.