The 16th world basketball championship

Turkey is going to host the world’s most important basketball event in 2010.

Organized every four years since 1950 by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the World Basketball Championship for Men will be held for the 16th time in Turkey 28 August to 12 September 2010. Twenty-four national teams from five continents who have qualified to play in the championship will first compete in the eliminations in Ankara, Antalya, Izmir and Istanbul before playing the finals in Istanbul. Turkey’s National Basketball ‘A’ Team, which qualified to play in the championships held in the U.S. in 2002 and Japan in 2006 garnering 9th and 6th place respectively, is going to have the pleasure of competing in the tournament as hosts in 2010.

Met with ‘shock and awe’ by FIBA officials when it was made in 2004, Turkey’s official application to host the World Basketball Championship has now been characterized as being ‘of unsurpassed perfection’ and ‘ahead of its time’.  One of three finalists along with France and Serbia-Montenegro among seven candidate countries, Turkey ousted Serbia-Montenegro in the first round and France in the final round of voting at the FIBA Central Board meeting in December 2004 to win the right to host this giant event. In addition to the favorable impact created by its application, the concrete and unconditional support of the Turkish government also played an extremely critical role in this historic result.

New venues, construction of which is getting underway in Antalya and Ankara, as well as Abdi İpekçi Sports Arena in Istanbul and the Halkapınar Sport Hall in Izmir, will host the elimination matches in this giant event in which a total of 80 matches will be played in 4 cities over a 16-day period. The finals and playoff matches will be played at Istanbul’s Olympic Stadium in Ataköy. Work is currently underway to convert the stadium, which is not suitable for basketball, into an arena where the World Basketball Championship finals can be played. A number of world basketball greats such as Kobe Bryant, Hidayet Türkoğlu, Yao Ming and Tony Parker already look set to play in the event in which the world’s top 24 teams will compete. Turkey has taken over the organization of this worldwide event from two super-powers such as the U.S. and Japan, a clear sign of the prestige and invaluable recognition it is going to gain as host country for the event in 2010.

Statistics for the championship held in Japan in 2006 make it easier to appreciate the value, importance and sheer size of the world basketball championship. Just to give an idea, some 225,000 tickets were sold during the championship, the matches were broadcast to 779 million television viewers in 132 countries, 2,800 members of the press from 63 countries were accredited to report on the championship, a record 375 million visits were made to the official championship website, which was available in four languages, and the event was watched by over 5.3 billion people around the world - all a good indication of the focus of world interest Turkey is going to become in 2010. There is no doubt about it; the championship is going to mean significant gains not only for the national economy and sports, but for promoting the country around the world. At the same time, it will also constitute an important reference as far as Turkey realizing its dream to host the Olympic Games. And the fact that the preparations currently under way and the projects that have already been completed are being followed closely by international sports authorities only serves to enhance once again the value and importance of this event for Turkey.