“I know what it’s like to play a top-level basketball tournament in front of home fans because I played at the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming said in a statement on the official website of FIBA.
And with Yao’s help, the governing body of international basketball competitions awarded China the right to host 2019 FIBA World Cup, leaving the Philippines greatly disappointed.
For some voices from the Philippines, the deciding point could be down to China’s advantage in infrastructure instead of passion for basketball. But for the FIBA board, the large fan base in China could be more appealing than the infrastructure or experience in hosting major sporting events.
Arguably the most popular international basketball competition is the Olympics basketball tournament prior to the FIBA World Cup, which is formerly the Basketball Championship, as the Olympics Games draw more star players and viewership.
Therefore, FIBA needs to adopt a series of reforms in order to enhance the appeals of FIBA World Cup. To start the move, FIBA will move the will put the qualifying tournaments for the Olympics and World Cup in one event.
And FIBA has decided to breakthrough with 2019 FIBA World Cup by expanding the competition teams from 24 to 32, covering more countries and districts to draw more attentions and engagements.
More importantly, to promote the competition global wide needs relatively larger audience base, at which point China, as a populated country with a large number of basketball supporters, would come to the stage.
Based on this, China’s bidding committee have stated earlier that China has a vast market for FIBA World Cup with unique size of basketball population. In my point of view, this is the true selling point for the international basketball governing body. With the facts that Yao’s NBA careers significantly enhanced the presence of NBA in China, FIBA easily took the chance to promote its brand by awarding the 2019 World Cup to China.