Former International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven called Group B “the pool of death” after the men’s wheelchair basketball draw for Tokyo 2020 was completed.
Reigning world champions Great Britain will meet 2016 Paralympic champions USA earlier than expected in Tokyo, being drawn together in Group B. The two sides faced off in the gold medal battle at the 2018 World Championships, where the British stunned the US in dominating fashion for their first official World Championship gold; they won the first unofficial Worlds in 1973.
Adding more pressure to Group B is the possible rematch between the 2018 Worlds bronze medal game between two-time Paralympic champions Australia and Iran. Despite falling to the Aussies, Iran still saw their highest ever place at a World Championships and just a glimpse of their potential come Tokyo 2020.
Completing Group B are Germany, who secured their Tokyo 2020 ticket via a top-four finish at the 2019 Europeans, and African champions Algeria.
Host nation team Japan joined Group A, with Asia-Oceania Championship silver medallists South Korea. Canada and Colombia qualified to Tokyo via second and third-place finishes, respectively, at the Lima 2019 Parapan Ams. Rio 2016 silver medallists Spain headline the group, as they hope to make another podium push in Tokyo, and European bronze medallists Turkey round things off.
The Netherlands‘ campaign for their maiden Paralympic title will involve surviving the rising power from the Chinese team in group B. China fell short of a medal at the 2018 World Championships, but proved their potential as Asia-Oceania champions the following year. Lima 2019 runners-up USA join them and face an uphill climb in defending their 2016 Paralympic gold. Spain earned a qualifying spot through the 2018 Europeans for their first Paralympic visit since Barcelona 1992. And wrapping up Group B are African champions Algeria.
Great Britain appear in strong position to make up for missing the Rio 2016 podium as they highlight Group A. The 2018 Worlds silver medallists will be joined by 2019 Parapan American champions Canada, Asia-Oceania runners-up Australia, 2018 Worlds bronze medallists Germany and host country team Japan.
Wheelchair basketball action tips off on 25 August at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, with medals games from 4-5 September.