The first qualifying tournament was the 2006 FIBA World Championship in which the champion was guaranteed of a place in the Olympics. Throughout the next two years, several regional tournaments served as qualification for the zonal tournaments, which doubles as intercontinental championships, to determine which teams will participate in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
There are a total of 5 zonal tournaments (doubling as intercontinental championships) that determined the qualifying teams, with a total of 7 teams qualifying outright. Each zone was allocated with the following qualifying berths:
- FIBA Africa: 1 team (Champion)
- FIBA Americas: 2 teams (Champion and runner-up)
- FIBA Asia: 1 team (Champion)
- FIBA Europe: 2 teams (Champion and runner-up)
- FIBA Oceania: 1 team (Champion)
Qualification via the wildcard tournament
The additional three teams will be determined at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2008, with the best non-qualifying teams participating from teams that did not qualify outright. Each zone is allocated with the following berths:
- FIBA Africa: 2 teams
- FIBA Americas: 3 teams
- FIBA Asia: 2 teams
- FIBA Europe: 4 teams
- FIBA Oceania: 1 team
|Qualified for the Olympics outright|
|Qualified for the Wildcard Tournament|
These are the final standings of the different Olympic qualifying tournaments. The venues are as follows, with the city of the knockout stage mentioned first:
- 2006 FIBA World Championship: Saitama, Hiroshima, Hamamatsu, Sapporo, Sendai (Japan)
- FIBA Africa Championship 2007: Luanda, Benguela, Huambo, Lubango, Cabinda (Angola)
- FIBA Americas Championship 2007: Las Vegas (United States)
- FIBA Asia Championship 2007: Tokushima (Japan)
- EuroBasket 2007: Madrid, Alicante, Granada, Palma, Seville (Spain)
- FIBA Oceania Championship 2007: Melbourne, Sydney, Boondall (Australia)
- FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2008: Athens (Greece)
The tournament is structured into a preliminary round of 16 teams divided into 4 groups; the top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stages (quarterfinals, semifinals and final).
The tournament is structured into a preliminary round of ten teams divided into 2 groups; the bottom team from each group is eliminated in the quarterfinals, where results between groupmates carry over. The Top four teams advance to the semifinals. The fifth-best team in the quarterfinals qualifies for the Olympics.
Hosts United States dominated in the tournament, blowing out Argentinas B team, 118-81 in the final. Puerto Rico and Brazil, the other semifinalists, and Canada the fifth-place team (tied for fourth at the quarterfinals but was beaten by Puerto Rico 72-66 in the last day of the quarterfinals to win the tiebreaker) qualify for the wildcard tournament.
With China automatically qualified, a much weaker team (without Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi) leaves the race wide open for FIBA Asia's Olympic berth. The tournament held in Tokushima, Japan is structured with a preliminary round of 16 teams divided into four groups, with the top two teams advancing to the quarterfinals, where they'll be divided into two groups. The top two teams in the quarterfinals groups advance to the knockout semifinals and finals.
China's early elimination in the preliminary round (their worst performance in the Asian Championships) simplified the implications: only the winner will advance outright to the Olympics. That winner was Iran which defeated Lebanon 74-69 in the final. Korea escaped Kazakhstan 80-76 to join Lebanon in the wildcard tournament.
Although Spain automatically qualified, they sent in their "A" team, considering EuroBasket 2007 was held in their homeland.
The tournament was divided into five rounds: the preliminary round where 16 teams are divided into 4 groups, the qualifying round, where bottom team from the prelims are eliminated, while the teams are reassigned into two 6-team groups, with results between teams that played already carried over, then the knockout stages (quarterfinals up to the final) where the top 4 teams in the qualifying round groups advance.
Spain survived into the final, where they were beaten by Russia, 60–59, which qualified outright to the Olympics. The other outright berth was decided in the third-place game, where Lithuania beat Greece, 78–69. The wildcard qualifiers are Greece, Germany, Croatia and Slovenia, which defeated France in the 7th place game, 88–74, for the last wildcard berth.
Australia won the first two games, rendering the third game inconsequential, which the Tall Blacks won. New Zealand qualified to the wildcard tournament.
After the end of wildcard tournament, the twelve teams that qualified for Beijing 2008 are:
The italicized teams are the wildcards.
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