Covid costs end Tall Blacks' Olympic dream

The Tall Blacks’ hopes of competing at the Tokyo Olympics were extinguished on Friday after Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) said they were forced to withdraw from the qualifiers due to costs associated with COVID-19 protocols and international travel.

The New Zealand men's team withdrew from the Olympic qualifying tournament in Serbia (June 29-July 4), while the country's 3x3 team has also pulled out from qualifiers in Austria (May 26-30).

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said Philippines will replace New Zealand in the men's qualifying event as the next best team from the Asia-Oceania Region in the world rankings.

A replacement for the 3x3 qualifiers will be determined at a later date after discussions with the national federations from the region.

"FIBA will evaluate the situation and decide upon potential further actions regarding New Zealand's withdrawal at a later stage," the governing body said in a statement.

BBNZ said it will instead invest in "must-play" competitions, including the FIBA Asia Cup cycles for the men's and women's teams which determine qualification for the respective World Cups cycles.

The Tall Blacks have only qualified for the Olympics twice, most recently in 2004, when they placed 10th.

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