Brazil’s men’s and women’s basketball teams can breathe easy. They are going to the Rio Olympics.
FIBA announced Sunday, at the start of the 2016 Olympic women’s basketball qualifying tournament for North and South American teams, that it granted Brazil places as host nation in the Rio Olympic basketball tournaments.
Olympic host nations are usually allowed automatic spots in basketball without having to qualify, but Brazil was not given the green light until Sunday due to money owed to FIBA.
Brazil’s federation “has made a firm commitment to pay the outstanding debt,” according to a FIBA press release.
If not granted an automatic spot in Rio, Brazil’s men would have had to qualify through FIBA Americas in September. That could have been challenging, since only the top two nations from the tournament qualify for Rio and competition would be stiff against 2004 Olympic champion Argentina and rising Canada, among others.
If Brazil finished third through fifth at FIBA Americas and not had that automatic Olympic berth, it would have had to go to a last-chance global qualifying tournament in July 2016, one month before the Rio Games.
The decision to give Brazil host spots was an expected one, especially after Brazil announced its roster for FIBA Americas. The team did not include its top NBA players Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao and Nene.