ISTANBUL/GENEVA (FIBA World Championship) – FIBA has announced that it is to ban the vuvuzela from the forthcoming basketball World Championship in Turkey because of health concerns.
The sport’s international governing body is urging fans not to bring the controversial instruments to games and warned that security staff will confiscate them. Supporters also face expulsion from the tournament’s five venues if they flout the ban.
FIBA is the first international sport federation to officially ban the vuvuzela from all of its events. The ban will also include pressure horns that can produce similar decibel levels and harm people’s health.
The noise made by the horns was a major talking point at the football World Cup in South Africa with opinion divided over the effect they had on the atmosphere during games.
Patrick Baumann, the Secretary-General of FIBA and a member of the International Olympic Committee, said: “We want fans to enjoy themselves and make lots of noise but not at the risk of spoiling it for others.
“The vuvuzela is simply not appropriate in a confined space such as a basketball arena. It’s a very loud instrument and some medical experts believe the decibel level and frequency can be harmful to hearing.
“Besides our responsibility to protect the well-being of our athletes and fans alike, the sound level in an indoor sport arena could create communication problems between the referees and that could have a direct negative impact on the game.
“We are urging fans not to bring the instrument to stadia because they will be confiscated by security staff and anybody who manages to smuggle one into a venue might end up missing the game.
“Previous tournaments have shown us that it’s possible to have a carnival atmosphere and passionate support without the vuvuzela.”
The ban will also be implemented for all other FIBA indoor events in the future such as the FIBA World Championship for Women later in the year.
Dr Heinz Gunter, Vice President of the FIBA Medical Commission, backed the decision saying: “If somebody is sitting next to more than one vuvuzela it can cause damage to the ear. The problem is the instrument has a very high frequency which is not good for the ears.”
Mr Nicholas Eynon-Lewis, a consultant ENT surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, also said: “The vuvuzela can produce sound pressure levels of up to 120 decibels. There is evidence that if spectators are exposed to this level of noise for more than a short period of time, they could suffer permanent damage to their hearing”
The 2010 FIBA World Championship will be the world's biggest-ever basketball competition and feature superstars such as Kevin Durant, Marc Gasol and Jianlin Yi.
Around 350,000 people are expected to attend the event in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Kayseri from August 28 to September 12 with more than one billion viewers watching the action on TV or online.
The tournament will feature 24 teams, including reigning world champions Spain and 2008 Olympic gold medalists USA, with 288 players competing in 80 games. Two new venues have been built especially for the finals.
Seven different teams have been crowned World Champions. Leading the medal table are the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and the USA, all having won the Championship three times. Spain are defending the title they won in Japan in 2006, while Argentina are currently the world’s best ranked basketball nation.
The team winning the 2010 FIBA World Championship will qualify automatically for the London 2012 Olympics.
FIBA (www.fiba.com), the world governing body for basketball, is an independent association formed by 213 National Basketball Federations throughout the world. It is recognised as the sole competent authority in basketball by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
For more information about the 2010 FIBA World Championship, visit the event website http://turkey2010.fiba.com, the FIBA twitter page http://twitter.com/fibaworld or the FIBA Facebook page http://facebook.com/FIBAWorld.