The 22 wheelchair basketball teams that have qualified for Tokyo 2020 have discovered their group opponents after the official draw was conducted at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games.
12 men’s teams and 10 women’s teams were drawn across two groups in each competition. To ensure a fair distribution of teams from the same Zones, the draw was seeded, and the teams were paired by Zone and their final placing in their Zonal qualification tournament.
In the women’s competition, Group B sees the reigning Paralympic Champions USA drawn against World Champions the Netherlands and Zonal Champions China and Algeria. Returning to compete at the Games for the first time since Barcelona 1992, Spain will complete the group.
Hosts Japan, who had the choice of which group to be placed in, chose Group A and will face tough opposition in Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and Germany.
For the men’s competition, the draw saw the top four finishers from the World Championships in 2018 drawn in Group B – Great Britain, USA, Australia, and Iran – and they will be joined by Germany and Algeria.
Japan, as host nation, opted be placed in Group A along with Canada, Korea, Spain, Turkey, and Colombia.
The groups now set out the preliminary stage for Tokyo 2020, which is played in a round robin format, with the top four in each group progressing to the quarter-finals, followed by semi-finals, and finals.
IWBF President, Ulf Mehrens, said:
Competing at a Paralympic Games is the pinnacle of a wheelchair basketball players’ career, and this year will be no different for the 264 players that will represent their country in Tokyo. Starting on the 24th August, we will see the 12 best men’s teams and the 10 best women’s teams in the world compete in Japan’s capital.
We are looking forward to the Games, and on behalf of IWBF, I must thank our Japanese hosts, the Tokyo 2020 Local Organising Committee, and the International Paralympic Committee for all the work they have done and are doing to ensure the games will go ahead with the athlete’s safety being of paramount importance.
The draw is an important step in all the teams’ planning, and builds further the excitement as we move closer to the Games. Good Luck to all the participating teams with your final preparations. Train well, stay safe and healthy. See you in Tokyo.”
British Olympian Jeanette Kwakye presented the live-stream and was joined by the Chair of IWBF’s Competition Commission, Charlie Bethel, who conducted the men’s and women’s draws assisted by Founding President of IWBF, Sir Philip Craven MBE, and the Japanese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, HAYASHI Hajime.
The Head Coaches of both the Japanese men’s team and the Japanese women’s team, and the Captains of both teams also joined virtually to give their perspective on the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and choose the group they wished to be placed in to.
Group A: Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Japan
Group B: USA, China, Netherlands, Spain, Algeria
Group A: Canada, Korea, Spain, Turkey, Colombia, Japan
Group B: USA, Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Algeria, Iran
Photo: SA Images.