The Great Britain Men’s basketball team will not travel to Belarus for their FIBA 2023 World Cup Qualifier next week because of the threat of potentially serious military action in the region.
GB were due to face the Belarusians in Minsk on 25 February, flying to the former Soviet state for preparation a few days before that.
But tensions in the region around Belarus have raised concerns for the safety of the team. The UK Government is advising against all but essential travel.
An emergency meeting of the British Basketball Federation (BBF) Board took place late on Saturday and decided, following consultation with staff and players, that the team should not travel to Minsk because of the potential risks involved.
It is hoped that the game can be played in a new location or at a different time, though that has not been agreed with FIBA.
Interim BBF Chair Toni Minichiello said:
“With the news reports of growing tensions in the region, the published advice of the Home Office, and a meeting to gauge the feelings and concerns of both the players and staff, the Board made the decision that the team’s safety and wellbeing is the only priority.”
“We await to hear from FIBA, but hope that we will be able to play in another location or on another date if FIBA sanctions that.”
Head Coach of the Great Britain Men’s National Team, Marc Steutel, added:
“Guaranteeing player and staff safety is of paramount importance to us. Therefore, in collaboration with the BBF Board, we have regrettably had to make this decision. We hope to quickly achieve a resolution to this situation.”
Great Britain Men’s Captain Dan Clark said:
“We are happy that the welfare of the travelling group has been put first when making this difficult decision. It is every player’s dream to represent their country at senior level, but some things are bigger than basketball and the current situation in that part of the world is extremely worrying. We look forward to working with FIBA to deliver a practical solution as soon as possible.”
The Belarus team are due to travel to the UK to face GB in the return leg of the fixture at Newcastle Vertu Motors Arena on 28 February.