Tokyo Olympics 2021: Basketball New Zealand withdraws Tall Blacks from Olympic qualification tournament

Basketball New Zealand has withdrawn the Tall Blacks from the last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament in Serbia, meaning they won't go to Tokyo.

BBNZ has cited travel costs and focusing on future international programmes as the reasons for the Tall Blacks' withdrawal.

The New Zealand team have also been pulled from the men's 3X3 FIBA tournament later this year.

BBNZ says senior players and the players association were consulted on the decision, and all parties agreed to prioritise "events that qualify into long-term cycles".

"The board spent considerable time weighing up the future of our international teams," says BBNZ chief executive Iain Potter. "They have accepted a level of measured risk, with a deficit forecast for this year, that we are backing ourselves to cover through sponsorship and additional funding.

"But even with the additional commitment, the programme would require another $750,000 to ensure we could participate in all scheduled 2021 events.

"Ultimately, the board agreed to focus on how we will maintain our responsibility to play in international competitions and ensure we can still compete in the future, and to make sure our men’s and women’s programmes are given equal opportunity.

"The players, staff and the board realise we are not operating like we did pre-COVID.

"For an international team, everything is more expensive. In these unprecedented times, we must consolidate or we risk something far greater, and that’s not seeing any international basketball for the Tall Ferns or Tall Blacks over the next four-year cycle."

The Tall Blacks were already at short odds to book a spot in Tokyo, needing to win a six-team tournament to qualify.