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A win on and off the court: FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers meet COVID-19 challenges, deliver impressive digital growth
MUNICH (Germany) - The FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers proved to be a resounding success both on and off the court despite having to cope with the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19.
Held across three windows in November 2019, November 2020 and February 2021, the battle for qualification for Europe's flagship event featured a total of 607 players from 33 different national teams.
With the first window completed prior to the arrival of the global pandemic, the second and third windows were organized in bio-secure bubbles with the health and safety of all participants the top priority.
Of the 84 games played in the Qualifiers, 54 took place in 13 protected environment tournaments across November 2020 and February 2021, following extensive precautionary measures, developed by the FIBA Medical Commission after consultation with the World Health Organization.
All athletes and team members also had to present two negative tests before traveling to the bubbles – one test done no later than 72 hours before the departure and another one five days previously – and were also tested onsite to ensure the integrity of protected environment tournaments.
A total of 3,212 tests were taken onsite across the two windows. Of these, 15 tests (0.47 percent) were positive.
A wide range of further measures, including designated hotels and dedicated transportation to venues, were implemented, following the COVID-19 Protocol for FIBA Official National Team and Club Competitions.
The operational success of ensuring the Qualifiers could continue despite COVID-19 was matched on the floor as 14 teams punched their respective tickets to the Final Round to join co-hosts France and Spain, with the event set to take place from June 17-27, 2021 in Strasbourg and Valencia.
The exciting on-court product featuring Europe's top talent and a down-to-the-wire qualification race fed into the Qualifiers witnessing the biggest ever audience for the event and phenomenal digital growth and engagement.
"The FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers are a story of success in more than one way. First and foremost, I'm pleased that we were able to conclude the Qualifiers safely through the implementation of the bubbles format in close cooperation with the bubble hosts. The well-being of the participants was the top priority for FIBA and our extensive health and safety protocols are a testament to that," said FIBA Executive Director Europe Kamil Novak.
"We not only managed to meet the operational challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in organizing the competition but also reached more fans than ever before digitally. This was very important at a time where they, for the most part, couldn't be there to enjoy the basketball at the arenas."
The games of the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers were broadcast live by a record 29 broadcasters, up from 25 for the previous qualification cycle.
There were also huge numbers of fans following the action via the FIBA YouTube channel, with views up from 632,000 during 2019 to a staggering 1.5 million. Full games, both live and on-demand, accounted for much of this increase.
The digital growth was also evident across the competition's dedicated social media channels, with the FIBA Women's EuroBasket Women accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter surpassing a combined total of 124,300 followers. In comparison to 2019, fan engagement grew from 144,000 to 737,000.
The official website of the Qualifiers was also busy in an unprecedented way, with 1.1 million page views, up from 708,000 in 2019 and double the traffic on features and other editorial content aimed at fans.
About FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021
FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2021 marks the 38th edition of the continental showpiece event, and will see 16 teams fight for the coveted title. The event is set to take place from June 17-27, 2021 in Strasbourg, France and Valencia, Spain.
For further information, visit the official website or follow FIBA Women's EuroBasket on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
FIBA (fiba.basketball) - the world governing body for basketball - is an independent association formed by 213 National Basketball Federations throughout the world. It is recognized as the sole competent authority in basketball by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).