Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has agreed to extend until 1 August 2020 the deadline for the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) to verify the eligibility of all 4.0 and 4.5 class players set to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
In January 2020, the IPC announced that the IWBF was non-compliant with the IPC Athlete Classification Code and that immediate measures needed to be taken. As part of an approved action plan towards code-compliance, the IPC requested the IWBF conduct an Eligibility Assessment of all 4.0 and 4.5 sport class players set to compete at Tokyo 2020 before 29 May 2020.
Such assessments are required of all International Federations to determine whether athletes have one of the Eligible Impairments permitted under the IPC Athlete Classification Code. Players found without an Eligible Impairment are not permitted to compete in the Paralympic Movement and will not be allowed to compete at the Games.
To date, the IWBF has satisfactorily completed the assessment of approximately 75 per cent of the players whose eligibility needed to be verified ahead of Tokyo 2020. The IPC has agreed to extend the deadline for the IWBF to complete the assessment of the remaining players, because further medical information is required in certain cases, and this information is difficult to access at present due to restrictions related to COVID-19.
Genevieve Duff, the IPC’s Acting Director of Classification, said: “Since January, the IWBF has made good progress in meeting its requirements to assess and verify the eligibility of all 4.0 and 4.5 class players set to compete at Tokyo 2020. However, restrictions put in place around the world due to the pandemic have slowed access to medical information which is needed as part of the athlete assessments.
“With the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions, the IWBF now has until 1 August 2020 to complete the eligibility assessments.”
In addition to assessing all 4.0 and 4.5 players due to compete at Tokyo 2020, the IPC has also requested the IWBF ensures that its own classification rules and operations align and are fully compliant with the IPC Athlete Classification Code by no later than 31 August 2021. At present IWBF is excluded from the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games programme. Failure to meet this deadline will mean that wheelchair basketball will not be readmitted into the Paris 2024 Games.