The International Paralympic Committee has granted IWBF an extension to the deadline to complete the first phase of the eligibility reassessment of athletes due to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In January 2020 the IPC’s Governing Board decided to take action against the IWBF and their non-compliance to the IPC Athlete Classification Code. They warned IWBF that unless the federation implemented an IPC approved action plan to start to align IWBF’s classification rules with that of the IPC’s Code by 29 May 2020, that they ran the risk of the removal of wheelchair basketball from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

To ensure compliance, IWBF has implemented the IPC agreed action plan which included a complete review of the current IWBF Classification Regulations to ensure they reflect the IPC’s and the reassessment of all international classified athletes against the IPC’s Athlete Classification Code.

Over the past few months IWBF has been working with fourteen National Organisations of Wheelchair Basketball (NOWB’s) to deliver Phase 1 of verifying the eligibility of all wheelchair basketball players with sport classes 4.0 and 4.5 who may compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The original deadline for this phase to be completed was by the 29 May 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed in many countries worldwide, in some cases it has proven difficult to access the relevant medical health service providers and collect the requested medical evidence in due time.

For this reason, IWBF requested an extension to the deadline from IPC to allow extra time to enable NOWB’s and athletes a better chance to acquire and submit additional medical documents and information.

IWBF’s President, Ulf Mehrens, said:

“I’d like to thank the IPC Governing Board for understanding the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in and for allowing us the extra time to enable us to have the optimum chance of proving their eligibility against the IPC Code.

“The athletes’ health and wellbeing must be the priority and they should not be put at risk of infection attempting to gather any further required medical information. IWBF understands the challenges NOWB’s and athletes are facing in these unprecedented times and have tried to be as accommodating and supportive wherever possible.

“We continue to make good progress through the action plan set out despite the limitations. Phase 1 of the reassessment is well underway and the commencement of Phase 2 has already begun. I’d also like to thank all our NOWB’s and athletes for their cooperation and patience as we continue to do everything possible to serve our wheelchair basketball community and our athletes’ best interests.”

View the statement from the IPC.