Hoops fans can expect cheerleaders, live announcers and booming music at the 2008 Beijing Olympics basketball events, after organizers pledged to bring a touch of the NBA to the Games.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) signed a deal yesterday with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of XXIX Olympiad and FIBA, the game's world governing body, to implement NBA-style sports presentation at the Olympic basketball tournament.
The goal is to create an atmosphere for athletes and fans with entertainment such as dancing teams, live announcers, music, videos and lighting.
"It is an important step forward to ensure we have the best Olympic basketball competition ever," said Bob Elphinston, president of FIBA.
"China is a very very important member of the international federation. We are glad to have support from the NBA.
"We need a wonderful form of in-area entertainment. It is an opportunity to enthuse and encourage the spectators. It will help provide a wonderful atmosphere for the athletes."
FIBA started working with the NBA at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
"We enjoyed very good relationships with the NBA at the last Olympic Games in Athens. Basketball is certainly one of the most popular and successful sports in the Olympic program.
"Here in Beijing, we expect to see even better. We know the presentation, including the culture of China, including the exciting moments of basketball, will be the highlights in Beijing."
Mark Fischer, managing director of NBA China, promised to help create a top-level atmosphere.
"We're getting involved now to ensure that various parts of this facility are to world-class standards," said Fischer.
"We're very confident that the world coming to Beijing during the Olympic Games will be extremely impressed with this facility."
Apart from NBA style elements, Fischer also said culture with Chinese characteristics would be injected.
"We are taking all the steps to give China and the world a truly memorable Olympic Games with Chinese characteristics.
"We will cover all aspects of basketball presentation including court design and layout, production, entertainment and an exchange program to share experiences and train local personnel.
"The presentation will celebrate Olympic spirit by incorporating elements from the rich Chinese culture as well as aspirations of all participating nations."
Wukesong Stadium will host the basketball competition, and Fischer gave it the thumbs up.
"The Wukesong basketball arena will not only provide a magnificent setting for the competition, it will also become an NBA-style arena and a destination for sport entertainment for years to come. We will work with BOCOG and FIBA to create a legacy for all to share."
Basketball has become extremely popular in China, especially after the success of Yao Ming with Houston Rockets. With their exposure to the NBA on TV, fans are also becoming more demanding about in-arena entertainment in domestic competitions.
Source: China Daily