Tallinn gets 'bubble' host status for European basketball qualifiers

Baltic Chain tournament: Estonia - Latvia
Baltic Chain tournament: Estonia - Latvia Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) announced Thursday that Tallinn would be the host city for a closed, NBA-style "bubble" environment ,set up to host European championships group B qualifying matches in November.

On Monday, Keio Kuhi, secretary general of the Estonian Basketball Association, said: "If we did not apply to host the event, we would have lost our scheduled home court advantage. It is very important for the national team to hold these matches in Estonia."

Kuhi said of FIBA's decision: "We are glad that we can hold the scheduled matches in Tallinn. We are certainly dealing with a large challenge but we have experience in organizing large tournaments and the international association has praised us for organization over the last few years."

Kuhi added: "The main thing is ensuring the safety of players, coaches, staff and fans."

FIBA's plan was to have four to eight teams in the one city, to enable them to play all their remaining qualifying matches at once. Along with the decision to have one "bubble" environment in Tallinn, Valencia, Vilnius, Istanbul, Espoo, Ljubljana, Pau (France) and Sarajevo will host qualifying matches in November.

Estonia, who currently sits second in group B with one win and one loss, will play the rest of their opening qualifying matches against North Macedonia and Russia.

The Estonian women's national basketball team will have to travel to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina to face the host country and Switzerland. The national team is currently fourth in their group C placement.

What is a "bubble"?

The "bubble" idea derives from the final stage and play-offs in the 2020 NBA season in the U.S., where twenty-two teams were invited to an isolation zone hosted by Disney World Florida.

The "bubble" sees extensive coronavirus alleviation measures being put into place, with daily testing and secure entry to the isolation zone ensured.

The NBA Finals are currently underway in the U.S., with a maximum of four games remaining. The "bubble" has proven to be extremely effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Leading up to the resumption of play on July 30, there were two consecutive weeks where zero players testing positive for COVID-19.

This streak was continued after play resumed, with five consecutive weeks of zero players testing positive for COVID-19 as of August 19. Close friends and family of players and coaches began to be admitted to the "bubble" from August 31.

The availability of spectators for the Tallinn "bubble" has not yet been announced.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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