IWBF has today confirmed that the IWBF Men’s U23 World Championship has been relocated and rescheduled to take place in Phuket, Thailand in September 2022.

The decision to reschedule the Championship, which was due to be held in Chiba, Japan, between 27 May – 4 June 2022, was made by IWBF in conjunction with the Japanese Wheelchair Basketball Federation.

IWBF Competition Chairman, Charlie Bethel, said:

“Given the COVID-19 pandemic situation and the measures currently in place in Japan combined with the difficulties over the availability of facilities for later dates in the year, JWBF have made the difficult decision to return the hosting rights for the IWBF Men’s U23 World Championship that were awarded to them in 2019.

“We would like to thank JWBF for all their efforts and work they have put in over the past three years to try and make the event go ahead. We hope to be able to work with JWBF in the future to bring international wheelchair basketball back to Japan.”

Shimpei Oikawa, JWBF Executive Board Member commented:

 “We are grateful for IWBF’s understanding of the difficult circumstances that led to our decision to relinquish the event in Japan. While the decision was made after intensive consideration and deliberation, it was extremely unfortunate because much preparation had already taken place and world’s top young players were set to compete at this long-awaited championship. Nevertheless, JWBF is committed to promotion and development of Wheelchair Basketball globally and will be seeking different ways to contribute by working together with IWBF and the Wheelchair Basketball community throughout the world.”

The Championship, which showcases elite junior male players of the sport, was originally scheduled for 2021 but had to be rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. It will now be moved to Phuket in Thailand to ensure it can take place in 2022.

After an in-depth consultation with the Sport Association for Wheelchair Basketball Thailand (SAWBT), who have a proven track record of organising international competitions, a solution to allow the U23 World Championship to go ahead between the 8 September – 16 September 2022 was found.

Bethel continued:

“We know navigating through the current health crisis to ensure competitions take place is extremely challenging. IWBF, their Zones, and Local Organising Committees also recognise that the pandemic is evolving differently according to where in the world you are and will endeavour to ensure that we offer all our teams not only the location and facilities for optimum performance but also the safest environment for everyone involved.

“We are extremely grateful to Wheelchair Basketball Thailand who have been able to step in and offer us the chance to make this competition possible. We thank everyone for their support, understanding, and flexibility in our efforts to maintain as much continuity as possible with the competition schedule.”

Phuket was already set to host the 2022 Asia Oceania Championships, the qualification tournament for the 2022 IWBF World Championships, in March which has now been pushed back to mid/end of May 2022 to allow extra time for the pandemic restrictions in the Zone to ease.

The Asia Oceania Zone’s 3×3 Commonwealth Games Qualification Tournament, which was due to be held alongside the Asia Oceania Championships, will no longer take place. Those countries registered to participate in the 3×3 tournament can instead apply through the wild card ‘bipartite system’.