AthletesCAN Statement on Wheelchair Basketball Athlete Eligibility Ruling for Paralympic Games

OTTAWA (July 9) – On June 18, the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) has released Phase-1 results of the athlete classification eligibility process. This process was undertaken following a January ruling of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board for IWBF to prove, in two phases, the eligibility of international wheelchair basketball athletes under the IPC Athlete Classification Code for the sport to be include in Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. The ruling to initiate this process comes after years of discussion between the IPC and IWBF on its failure to comply with IPC Athlete Classification Code.

The classification eligibility process involves two phases, Phase-1 involves reassessment of athletes with sport classes 4.0 and 4.5 from Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games qualified countries. Phase-2, currently in process, will assess the eligibility of all other athletes with results delivered to the respective National Governing Organizations / National Sport Organizations before the end of 2020.

The release of the first set of decisions has been delivered to Wheelchair Basketball Canada ruling three athletes eligible and one ineligible. These results come after an enormously successful season by Wheelchair Basketball Canada Men’s and Women’s teams, qualifying for the Paralympics and bringing home a pair of medals from the 2019 Lima Parapan American Games.

“During such an uncertain time putting teams, teammates and friendships through such a stressful situation is completely uncalled for,” said AthletesCAN Board Member and veteran Canadian wheelchair basketball national team member Bo Hedges. “For these two governing bodies to allow this situation to unfold as it has emphasized a need for change within both organizations. Athletes are the heart of the games and not something to be used as collateral damage to settle a disagreement.”

We are extremely disappointed by the approach taken by the IPC and IWBF in the classification reassessment of wheelchair basketball athletes. While we acknowledge the July 6, 2020 IPC statement, a decision of this magnitude four years into a Paralympic cycle is irresponsible and shows a complete lack of regard for athletes’ mental health and wellbeing. This decision counters the values of the sport and ultimate sacrifices these athletes have made to represent their country on the world stage. Moreover, leaving athletes and teams in limbo is unacceptable as it diverts their focus from final Tokyo 2020 preparations during a time of increased uncertainty and stress due to the pandemic. We urge the IPC and IWBF to reconsider the eligibility ruling implementation period to apply it to the early stages of the next quadrennial.

As the process continues, we put our full support behind those athletes who have received results and those whose results are pending. Among those athletes who have received an ineligible result from IWBF is 3x Paralympic medalist, Rio 2016 Paralympic Games flag bearer, and 16-year veteran David Eng. AthletesCAN would like to express its sincere gratitude to David for his dedication and leadership representing Canada on the world stage.

Signed in Solidarity,

 

Read More:
IWBF Release first set of decisions in eligibility reassessment process
Wheelchair Basketball Canada Statement
Canadian Paralympics Statement
Athletes Germany Statement
 
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About AthletesCAN
AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, is the only fully independent and most inclusive athlete organization in the country and the first organization of its kind in the world. As the voice of Canadian national team athletes, AthletesCAN ensures an athlete centered sport system by developing athlete leaders who influence sport policy and, as role models, inspire a strong sport culture.

For more information please contact:
Georgina Truman
Manager, Athlete Relations & Operations
AthletesCAN
[email protected]

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