(Reuters) – NBA participation at the Tokyo Olympics may be limited as the league’s next season, which has been pushed back due to the COVID-19 outbreak, would likely be ongoing at the time of the Games, Commissioner Adam Silver told CNN on Tuesday.
Normal NBA seasons start in late October and finish in mid-June.
Yet with the league hoping to launch a standard 82-game campaign in January followed by playoffs, then barring a condensed schedule, it would still be running when the Olympics open on July 23.
“There are a lot of great U.S. players, and we may be up against a scenario where the top 15 NBA players aren’t competing in the Olympics, but other great American players are competing,” said Silver.
“Obviously, there are many NBA players who participate in the Olympics from other countries. That’s something we’re going to have to work through.
“These are highly unique and unusual circumstances. I think, just as it is for the Olympic movement, it is for us as well. We’re just going to have to sort of find a way to meld and mesh those two competing considerations.”
The Tokyo Olympics were postponed by a year because of the coronavirus outbreak. NBA players have participated in every Summer Olympics since the 1992 Barcelona Games.
The NBA, which halted its 2019-20 season in March, resumed play on July 30 in a bubble-like campus at Disney World in Florida without spectators and the championship series will conclude in mid-October if it goes the distance.
“It is a factor in our planning,” Silver said of the Olympics. “It would be tough for us to make a decision in January based on the Olympics happening on schedule when that’s so unclear.”
Silver said his “best guess” is the next season will not tip off until some point in 2021.
“The more I am learning … I continue to believe that we are going to be better off getting into January,” said Silver. “And further, the goal would be to play games in home arenas in front of fans.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)