International basketball governing body FIBA announced on Saturday morning that Estonia will be one of three European countries to host a pre-qualification tournament for the 2024 Olympic Games. The tournament will take place at the Tondiraba Ice Hall in Tallinn from August 12-15 and will be the biggest basketball event ever organized in Estonia.
Head of the Estonian Basketball Association (EKL) Keio Kuhi told ERR last Friday that FIBA has been impressed by both the quality of Estonian basketball and the fans.
Estonian men's basketball head coach Jukka Toijala said that it will be a great honor for Estonian basketball to host the Olympic pre-qualifying tournament and also a gift for the fans.
"Participating in the tournament as well as organizing it, shows that we are moving in the right direction as a basketball nation and it is a great honor for us. It gives us the opportunity to bring the best Estonia has to offer right now (to play) in front of our home crowd. In addition to the sporting element, this is also a nod to the Estonian basketball fans, who have supported us at the European Championship finals in Riga and Milan," said Toijala.
"We've been communicating with the players and their feedback has been very positive. The players are really motivated to represent the national team in a home tournament," Toijala added.
16 different countries are set to take part in the European pre-qualifying tournaments. The teams will be divided into four groups of four. Tallinn will host all the matches in one of those four groups, where Estonia will be drawn as hosts. Gliwice, Poland and Istanbul, Turkey will host the other games in the European pre-qualifying tournaments
The best teams will then advance to the pre-qualifying play-offs, which are also due to be played in Istanbul. The European sides that make it all the way to the FIBA qualifying tournaments and have a chance of making it to next summer's Olympics in Paris will ultimately be decided on August 20.
Similar pre-qualifying tournaments are also set to be held in Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Sales of a limited number of best-price tournament passes are already available online at Piletitasku. Tournament passes include entrance to all six matches due to be played in Tallinn on August 12, 13 and 15.
The Estonian team will find out who they have to overcome to make it through to the play-offs on May 1, when the draw for the Olympic pre-qualification tournament groups is made.
Editor: Michael Cole