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Silver says NBA ‘unlikely’ to pause season for Olympics in 2021

FILE PHOTO: NBA – Charlotte Hornets v Milwaukee Bucks

(Reuters) – The NBA is not likely to have a break next season when the postponed Olympics are held, league commissioner Adam Silver said, casting doubt on the availability of NBA players at the Tokyo Games.

The Olympics were postponed by a year, to July 23-Aug. 8 next year, because of the novel coronavirus, which also led to the NBA season being suspended, leading to a delay in the start of the new season and the conflict in schedules.

The NBA season usually runs from October to June but with the 2019-20 Finals series now finishing this month, the new season is expected to begin in January with plans for the usual 82-game campaign and playoffs to follow.

“We’ll consider it. I think it’s unlikely at the end of the day that, if we start late, we would stop for the Olympics,” Silver told NBA TV.

“It’s not just a function of stopping for the period in which they are competing over in Tokyo, they require a training camp and then they require rest afterwards.”

Since professional players were allowed to compete at the Olympics, beginning with the 1992 Games in Barcelona, the United States has won six out of seven gold medals with star-studded squads made up primarily of NBA players.

With more than 100 international players in the NBA, Silver added that he also had concerns for other countries – some of which have yet to qualify for the Olympics and will be competing in qualifiers next year.

“There are so many incredible players, beginning with the USA team, we’ll be able to field a very competitive team,” Silver said.

“I’m a bit worried about some of the international teams, because some of their stars play in our league and their absence would make a huge difference for those national teams.

“I’d only say these are such extraordinary circumstances that, even if we set out to plan for the Olympics, how can they even know what the world is going to be like next summer and whether they can go forward?”

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru)