Ex-NBA star Mutombo backs Olympic age limit
The National Basketball Association proposed last month to withdraw its top players from the Olympics after 2012 and instead implement the age limit over fears from players and teams about potential burn-out from too many games.
Leading an NBA youth training camp in Tokyo, the 45-year-old Mutombo said European national teams "have the tendency to keep their squads for almost 16 years or sometimes much longer".
"Young players in Europe have been held back" as the teams counted on the "names of those who had success", he told reporters Wednesday.
"It's no good for our sport," the eight-time NBA All-Star said. "You watch the NBA All-Stars game every year. We don't have the same players every year."
The involvement of top NBA players has been a major draw at Olympic basketball tournaments since the US "Dream Team" played at Barcelona in 1992 and won gold to boost the league's popularity worldwide.
Mutombo, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, had no Olympic experience but stood second on the NBA's all-time list for career blocked shots, winning the league's Defensive Player of the Year award four times.
The 218-centimetre (7ft 2in) centre retired in 2009 after playing 18 seasons in the NBA with the last six seasons at the Houston Rockets.
Mutombo, who became a US citizen in 2006, said he was "bothered day and night" by Congo's high mortality rate.
In 2007 he helped pay for a hospital in his hometown of Kinshasa, the first new medical facility of its kind in the Congo in about 40 years.