August 3, 2010: When the 2010 FIBA World Championships, basketball's equivalent of the FIFA World Cup, takes place from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12 in Turkey, people will see 24 teams, including reigning world champions Spain and 2008 Olympic gold medalists U.S., with 288 players competing in 80 games.
What they won't see are vuvuzelas, the horns whose sound became a central part of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
FIBA, basketball's international governing body, has banned the vuvuzela from the 2010 basketball World Championship in Turkey because of "health concerns." According to FIBA, people are being urged "not to bring the controversial instruments to games" and also warned that "security staff will confiscate them." Attendees also face expulsion from the tournament’s five venues if they "flout the ban." FIBA said it would be 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 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, " Patrick Baumann, the Secretary-General of FIBA and a member of the International Olympic Committee, said in a statement. "We want fans to enjoy themselves and make lots of noise but not at the risk of spoiling it for others. According to Baumann, in addition to FIBA's responsibility to protect the well-being of our athletes and fans, "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."
"The noise drowns out the singing, the chants and the cheers . . . and replaces all of that with the sound of an attack by giant plastic bees."
An estimated 350,000 people are expected to attend the event in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Kayseri, with more than one billion viewers watching the action on TV or online. The team winning the 2010 FIBA World Championship will qualify automatically for the London 2012 Olympics.
FIBA said that vuvuzelas would also be banned for all other upcoming FIBA indoor events, including the FIBA World Championship for Women later in the year.
Dr. Heinz Gunter, vp of the FIBA Medical Commission, is among those who backed the decision. “If somebody is sitting next to more than one vuvuzela it can cause damage to the ear," Guntner said in a statement. "The problem is the instrument has a very high frequency which is not good for the ears.”
“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," stressed Baumann. "Previous tournaments have shown us that it’s possible to have a carnival atmosphere and passionate support without the vuvuzela.”
Basketball is not the only sport reacting negatively to the sound of vuvuzelas. Roger Faulkner was the chairman of the Detroit host committee for the 1994 FIFA World Cup at the Silverdome. He is now a senior advisor for soccer to Silverdome managers Triple Sports & Entertainment, which will play host to the international soccer friendly match between AC Milan and Panathinaikos FC on Aug. 6.
"I simply cannot stand those terrible things," Faulkner said in a statement. "The noise drowns out the singing, the chants and the cheers that make a soccer game such a unique experience and replaces all of that with the sound of an attack by giant plastic bees."