There are lots of politics here that I don't know much about, but of course it's no secret that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is not exactly Mr. Popularity in Washington. There had been rumblings that because of politics, the FIBA qualifying tournament for the Olympics, which had been scheduled for Caracas next summer, might somehow be moved.
This morning, Chavez stood before the UN General Assembly and called President Bush the devil. This afternoon, the word is that Venezuela has not fulfilled its FIBA obligations, and has lost its grip on the tournament.
According to multiple sources, Venezuela didn't come up with the necessary payments in time to secure its site in Caracas as the host. That forced FIBA Americas to open up the bidding. FIBA spokesman Javier Otero said in an e-mail Tuesday that Venezuela is still in the bidding process along with Chile, Puerto Rico and the United States.
The executive board of FIBA Americas, which has more Latin American representation based on the number of countries, will meet Oct. 2 and a decision, according to Otero, will be made Oct. 10. The winner of the Tournament of Americas earns an automatic berth to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
While national team managing director Jerry Colangelo doesn't want to comment on why the event may leave Venezuela, he did say that Las Vegas is the choice of the U.S. if it is selected to host.
Per Katz, Colangelo also says Jason Kidd has expressed interest in joining the national team next summer.