UPDATED: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 9:14am
Vuvuzelas will be silenced at the world basketball championships.
Basketball's governing body said Monday the horns that provided the earsplitting buzz at World Cup soccer games will be banned from its tournament. The organizers said vuvuzelas used indoors could damage hearing and make it difficult to communicate on court.
"We want fans to enjoy themselves and make lots of noise but not at the risk of spoiling it for others," FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann said in a statement. "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."
The world championships begin Aug. 28 in four cities in Turkey. FIBA warned that the instruments will be confiscated by security and the ban will be enforced at all of its indoor tournaments, such as the women's world championships this year. Anyone bringing a vuvuzela to a FIBA venue risks expulsion.
FIBA called the vuvuzelas "controversial instruments" and cited a surgeon from St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, who said the horns can produce sound reaching 120 decibels. The doctor added that sustained exposure could cause permanent hearing damage.
Baumann said there also was a competitive reason for the ban.
"Besides our responsibility to protect the well-being of our athletes and fans alike, 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," he said.
Soccer's governing body supported the use of vuvuzelas in South Africa despite criticism from the TV audience, saying they were part of the country's culture.
International basketball already features plenty of crowd noise, such as Lithuanian fans who bang drums and chant throughout games.
"Previous tournaments have shown us that it's possible to have a carnival atmosphere and passionate support without the vuvuzela," Baumann said.