If the Canadian men’s basketball team is going to make it to the Olympics, they will do so with an assist from the hometown crowd.
Just days before the Olympic men’s basketball qualifier tournament is set to start at Victoria Memorial Arena, B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has approved an exemption to the province’s capacity limits.
For games played only on July 1, 3rd and 4th, spectators will be allowed in the arena.
Canada could advance to play in the semi-final on July 3, and if they won that game, would advance to the final on July 4.
“The Provincial Health Officer has reviewed the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament request for variances to the Provincial Health Officer Gatherings and Events Order to allow a 10% capacity of spectators at the tournament,” reads a statement from the Minister of Health.
“As a result the tournament can proceed with limited spectators for all tournament games, with specific conditions, as long as the safety plan is implemented and on the condition that the Public Health Agency of Canada provides a Quarantine Act exemption for the proposed 3-day modified quarantine.”
The tournament is tipping off June 29, with Canada taking on Greece. Only one of the six teams in the tournament will qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo.
China, Uruguay, Turkey and Czech Republic round out the teams playing in the tournament.
The conditions for fans include a maximum of 10 per cent of the available seats occupied by spectators with the caveat that they meet the physical distancing requirements. This is expected to be around 800 fans.
Media, staff and players are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the venue.
The exemptions also require all spectators, unless they are in the same party, to maintain two metres of distance from one another, in or out of their seats.
Organizers must ensure sufficient staff are present to prevent congregation in areas, such as the gate entrance, concessions, washrooms, general seating and exit of the venue.
Masking is required at all times while in the venue, except when eating and drinking, or unless individuals have an exemption per the mask mandate order.
Canada last qualified for the Olympics in 2000, when the men’s team finished seventh.
Health screening measures as proposed must be undertaken prior to entering event and no alcoholic beverages may be sold or served anywhere at the event.