FIBA bans Japan from all international basketball activities

On Wednesday, FIBA finally dropped the hammer on the Japanese Basketball Association (JBA) issuing an immediate suspension from all FIBA and FIBA Asia-related activities. The reason FIBA banned Japan from international basketball activities is because the JBA failed to comply with FIBA’s request to merge both the BJ-League and NBL into one national league.

FIBA gave the JBA until October 31st to re-structure their current system. It’s been nearly a month since the deadline and still nothing has been changed. The length of the ban is still unknown but this could certainly have a negative impact for both the men’s and women’s national teams and their quest to qualify for the olympics.

“The JBA has been and currently remains unable to deliver on FIBA’s requests to: restructure the JBA to ensure it is fully functional under FIBA’s general statutes; merge the existing two leagues into one that operates under the JBA and plays the game in accordance with (FIBA’s) official basketball rules across the country; (and) present a concrete sporting plan for the national teams (men and women) beyond 2020.” – FIBA News Release

Ed Odeven of the Japan Times has been following this story very closely. Odeven has noticed many flaws in the inner workings of basketball operations in Japan. He’s done a fine job at documenting Japan’s downward spiral from the past half-decade.

The exact reason why FIBA banned Japan

Source: The Japan Times

Since an official visit to Tokyo in 2009, top FIBA officials, including secretary general Patrick Baumann, have repeatedly stated that the concurrent existence of the 22-team bj-league and 13-team NBL are a violation of FIBA rules, as each national federation is required to have a clear-cut top league under its control. The bj-league operates outside of JBA control.

Though bj-league commissioner Toshimitsu Kawachi and his NBL counterparts have held talks with the JBA in recent months, no merger deal has been reached. And there’s been no evidence that the rival leagues are any closer to an agreement than they were at any time over the past five-plus years.

What does FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann have to say about this?

“FIBA regrets that the situation has reached such a point of no return. However, we are convinced that after so many years of warnings and struggle, and for the good of basketball in Japan, it is absolutely time to make important changes to the structures of the JBA and of the domestic competitions in order to fully comply with FIBA’s general statutes and also to embrace the opportunity that the 2020 Olympic Games will provide to basketball in Japan. We want a successful Tokyo 2020 basketball tournament with the participation of the Japanese men’s and women’s teams. We believe that basketball has great potential to become one of the leading sports in Japan, especially in view of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It is time to prepare for it without the ‘heavy luggage’ of past history and failed reforms, but instead with a strong vision toward the future for the benefit of all who love the game. We count on all basketball stakeholders to participate in the much-needed reform process that will be led by the task force.”

It’s fortunate for Japan national teams that there aren’t any international tournaments right away. Yet there will be Olympic qualifiers for both men and women for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games next summer in China. Until they can work on merging the two domestic leagues together, there is no way FIBA lifts its ban.

Nick Bedard (@bedardnick) is the editor-in-chief of

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