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Fiba’s Zagklis: Inclusion of 3×3 at Tokyo will grow grassroots basketball

3x3 basketball will make its debut at the full Olympic Games in Tokyo, after a successful trial period in the Youth Olympics. Fiba’s secretary general Andreas Zagklis tells Frank Dunne why 3x3 and the Olympics were made for each other.

Andreas Zagklis (image credit: FIBA).

In 2007, Fiba offered 3×3 when the IOC asked for a new youthful discipline to be played at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Singapore, where 3×3 became a resounding success. Since our early days, 3×3’s motto has been ‘from the streets to the Olympics’. The Olympic inclusion on June 9, 2017, has brought a new chance for new countries to win medals in basketball, an additional legitimacy in the sports business ecosystem and an unrivalled platform to expand our community of players, organisers and fans.

After Singapore in 2010, 3×3 was considered a hit again with record attendances at the next two YOG editions in Nanjing and Buenos Aires. In fact, in 2017, 3×3 became the first-ever new YOG discipline to be included in the Olympic programme.

3×3 has been played in the streets since basketball was created. However, one of Fiba’s main achievements in recent years has been to design a set of rules for a fast-paced, spectacular and drama-filled game, tailor-made for a young urban audience in the social media consumption era.

In two hours, a fan gets to watch around six games of 3×3 with 12 different teams, with their different styles and cultures. On average, 25 per cent of the games will be decided by just one basket. And if the games are not that close, they will be over in no time when the best team scores 21 points.

Fiba views 3×3 as a way to break the barrier between sports and entertainment. There is non-stop music. The MCs and the DJs have a leading role. The events are set in city centres with some of the most iconic urban backdrops. Other urban disciplines, like breakdance or BMX freestyle, are integrated in our running orders between the games. 3×3 events are more than sporting events; they are authentic urban culture festivals.

The impact has been noticeable ever since 3×3 was added to the Olympic programme in 2017. The Olympic dream has provided an additional incentive for new players, national federations, national Olympic committees and organisers to get involved in 3×3. On top of the season earnings on the Fiba 3×3 professional circuit – over $2.5m (€2.1m) overall in 2019 for the men’s Fiba 3×3 World Tour and the Fiba 3×3 Women’s Series launched on the same year – several elite players have received funding from their national Olympic committee to specialise in 3×3.

Besides the elite level, we expect the number of grassroots players to continue to grow after the Olympics. 3×3 is a simple, easy and accessible game. With the billion eyeballs on the Olympics and 3×3 this summer, we expect more people to play 3×3 in the streets and in grassroots events on [Fiba digital platform] play.fiba3x3.basketball.

One of the particularities of 3×3 is that Fiba not only manages the world competitions. It also developed a free app for people all around the world to organise and manage grassroots tournaments and a digital platform where thousands of organisers and millions of players can interact.

Fiba has managed to build a strong and engaged community of fans around 3×3 on social media of close to three million on all platforms combined. In 2019, Fiba for 3×3 alone led all international federations for most total views, shares and interactions per post on Facebook in the yearly report of Burson, Cohn and Wolfe. Not only do we expect the numbers to rise with Tokyo 2020, we also envision the traditional media coverage will increase. Our Fiba 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournaments have shown a new-found interest from Olympic broadcasters and the mainstream media.

Finally, a new generation of organisers has invested in 3×3 events and more partners have joined us after the Olympic announcement. We expect these opportunities to rise significantly as sports industry leaders watch a spectacular 3×3 event in Tokyo and some of our best athletes become national and international stars after winning Olympic medals.

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