France-United States: Why the basketball final is played at 4:30 am

The final of the Olympic Games between the French team of Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum and the great American favorite is played at an unusual time.

“Big shit.” As he prepares to play his first Olympic final with the French basketball team against the favorite of the tournament, Evan Fournier is chafouin to say the least. In question: the very particular schedule at which this France – United States will take place: 4:30 am in the night of Friday August 6 to Saturday August 7 in Paris, which gives 11:30 in Tokyo.

After their hard-won qualification against Slovenia thanks to a legendary counter from Nicolas Batum , the Blues were indeed hoping for better exposure for their reunion with the Americans they beat at the opening of the competition. Ironically on the sometimes approximate coverage of France Televisions of the Olympics, Evan Fournier, already him, had launched in an interview that we should not interrupt the broadcast of the final to broadcast horse riding instead .

The demands of NBC, the American broadcaster

Except that for once, the French public audiovisual can do nothing and that this gala meeting which could offer French basketball its first Olympic gold medal will be played well in the middle of the French night.

The consequence of the demands of another Olympic Games broadcaster that is much more financially powerful: the American NBC. After having concluded agreements with the International Olympic Committee for huge amounts (more than 4 billion euros for the broadcasting of the summer and winter Olympics between 2012 and 2020, extended until 2032 for an additional 7 billion, record worldwide in the field of television rights), the American channel has gained significant weight in the development of the program.

Thus, NBC asks every four years to place the events that most interest the American public at suitable times for the latter. Result: since the start of the Olympic fortnight, a good part of the most beautiful events have taken place between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Paris time, which corresponds to  prime time  on the east coast of the United States. This was the case, for example, for the swimming finals, and in particular for Florent Manaudou’s silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle, won around 3:25 am in Paris and therefore in the middle of the morning in Japan.

Inherent sporting constraints

A scenario that had already arisen during the Beijing Games in 2008 , already at the request of NBC. Ditto since in London and Rio , where several events have been postponed for the ratings needs of the powerful media group.

And beyond the viewing conditions of the Olympic event in the world, this also has repercussions on the sporting course of the events in Tokyo, since with the final scheduled to satisfy the Americans, the French players will have to adjust. . While they played the semi-final between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., this time we will have to get up much earlier to start the match at 11:30.

With the logistical constraints and a certain inequity in terms of recovery (Team USA will have had half a day of rest in addition to the Blues). “It’s disturbing knowing that the Americans are five minutes away from the room and we are one hour away in the village”, still annoys Evan Fournier. Another curiosity, this organization will make that the final for the third place will be played after the big one, that for the gold. A metal which, if it is pocketed by the French, will compensate for these oddities of programming and viewing a match that promises to be epic.

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