A pre-Olympic bubble in Las Vegas for the US, Australia and Spain to train and play exhibition games against one another before leaving for the Tokyo Olympics is being proposed by USA Basketball.

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With National Basketball Association (NBA) players expected to make up the core of all three teams and the league’s playoffs scheduled to take place from May 22 to July 22, such an environment would allow players to limit travel and possible exposure to COVID-19 before going to Japan.

“On the surface it makes a lot of sense,” USA Basketball’s managing director Jerry Colangelo told ESPN.

We have to be flexible. Spain, the reigning World Cup champions, have five current NBA players who have played on the national team in the past – Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Serge Ibaka, Juancho Hernan Gómez and Willy Hernan Gómez.

The Australians named their Olympic roster pool this week, and it has 10 current NBA players, including Ben Simmons, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum and Matisse Thybulle. Team USA is tentatively planning to open the training camp from July 4, while the NBA playoffs are taking place.

Colangelo added that USA Basketball has petitioned the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Basketball Federation, which runs the Olympic basketball tournament, to change the rules for when rosters for the Games must be submitted.

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Usually, the rosters must be set several weeks in advance, but with the NBA playoffs running until three days before the US is scheduled to play a first Olympic game, Colangelo is calling for changes. Team USA has asked to allow roster changes even during the Olympics as players may fly over late and join teams, Colangelo said. Colangelo is waiting to hear back from the governing bodies on the matter.

“These are not normal times,” he said.

Rosters by a certain date doesn’t make any sense. What we’re seeking is flexibility to substitute players very late and to get the best players on the court. It doesn’t just apply to us but for all the countries. On Wednesday the IOC released its first set of Games guidelines which said athletes were not required to be vaccinated or to quarantine on arrival, but that they would have to undergo testing before and after their journey.

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