Eight teams qualified during the qualification tournaments held in their respective zones in 2001; two teams (USA and Canada) qualified automatically since they are the only members of the North America zone.
The top four teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals.
Results and standings among teams within the same group are carried over.
The top four teams at the quarterfinals advance to the semifinals (1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3).
The top five teams from the quarterfinals stage where granted berths in the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis. Since the United States were already qualified as Olympic Champions, should they reach the semifinals stage, the sixth best team from the quarterfinals also qualified to the World Championship.
The winners in the knockout semifinals advance to the Final. The losers figure in a third-place playoff.
The top four teams in both Group A and Group B advanced to the quarterfinal group. Then, each team played the four from the other group once to complete a full round robin. Records from the preliminary groups carried over.