- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

GENEVA (AP) - The international basketball federation has renewed hope its street-inspired 3-on-3 game could yet be played at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Reports in Brazil suggested new medal events could yet be added after IOC President Thomas Bach visited last week.

“If this matter is re-opened, 3-on-3 is ready,” FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. “We know that the organizing committee in Rio would not mind.”

The half-court version of basketball was strongly favored to debut at the Rio Olympics until the International Olympic Committee leadership closed a program review last July.

That unexpected decision followed widespread protests against Brazil’s government and FIFA during the Confederations Cup. The warm-up tournament one year ahead of the World Cup was overshadowed by anger at major spending on sports events instead of public services such as schools, hospitals and transport.

Baumann said the IOC’s assessment of 3-on-3 had been “a positive review, we know that for a fact.”

Street basketball was the hit at the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore and seemed to fit the IOC’s goal of modernizing the games and appealing to younger viewers.

“In Rio there is a very strong street culture. It fits extremely well there,” said Baumann, who cautioned that Bach did not guarantee a fresh program review.

Brazilian media picked up on state president Dilma Rousseff’s written suggestion to the IOC to consider adding the Star sailing class in Rio.

“The Brazilian press said that there is an opportunity, not the IOC. There is a bit of a difference,” Baumann said. “I can imagine the IOC sports director, executive director of the games and the president have much bigger mountains to climb than 3-on-3, but we are there.”

The IOC board meets Sunday and Monday in Sochi ahead of the three-day assembly, which will fulfill Bach’s promise since his election last September to evaluate how the Olympics Games should develop and decide on the event program.

“We know there will be a very deep discussion,” said Baumann, an IOC member from Switzerland. “We have always been optimist because we knew why the (review) process has stopped. We haven’t really stepped back from our push.”

FIBA is also prepared to help the Rio organizers finance and stage Olympic 3-on-3 tournaments.

“We have the know-how, the resources to do so, that they don’t have to really bother much with that,” Baumann said.

FIBA had already identified potential venues in Rio, and could share a stage with another sport. It proposed bringing 96 athletes to the Summer Games, with 12 teams in each of the men’s and women’s medal events playing across eight days.

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