Global Athlete has hit out at the IPC and IWBF for leaving qualified Tokyo 2020 athletes in limbo ©Global Athlete

Global Athlete has requested that the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) protect those qualified athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, who may now not be able to compete at the Games due to reclassification.

The letter from the athlete movement comes after recent reclassification controversies which could prohibit those classified as 4.0 or 4.5 under the IPC's rules from competing as a para-athlete in future.

Those marked 4.0 or 4.5 are often regarded as the most able-bodied disabled athletes.

Global Athlete have called the IPC's decision to omit those who are not classified from Tokyo 2020 "illegal", claiming it violates the athlete's rights.

"The IPC is not legally permitted to exclude individual athletes who have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Games and whose eligibility under the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation’s classification rules has not been formally contested," said Global Athlete's statement.

"Further, the IPC is not legally permitted to exclude wheelchair basketball from the Tokyo Paralympic Games in its entirety so shortly before the beginning of the event.

"The IPC has demanded changes from the IWBF. 

"However, the IPC has not exercised the option to suspend the IWBF nor to manage the sport on an interim basis. 

"Instead, wheelchair basketball players are being placed in the middle of a governance dispute between the IPC and the IWBF. 

"The fact that the IPC has made this unilateral heavy-handed decision without athlete consultation is another reason why effective and independent athlete representation for matters of the IWBF and the IPC is so important."

Wheelchair basketball players have stated that they are considering leg amputations to be able to compete with many criticising the IPC's position that deems them "not disabled enough".

Speaking to insidethegames, a spokesperson for the IPC stated that since the IPC Code was approved in 2015, it has worked with the IWBF to bring these new rules into place with the partnership reaching "breaking point" in January over what they deem as reluctance from the IWBF.

Many wheelchair basketball players could be made ineligible under the new IPC Classification Code ©Getty Images
Many wheelchair basketball players could be made ineligible under the new IPC Classification Code ©Getty Images

The IWBF were under threat of not having wheelchair basketball as part of the Tokyo 2020 programme, but the IPC decided against this action.

"The IPC's aim with this measure was, amongst other things, to protect the right of all eligible wheelchair basketball players," said the IPC.

"So far as part of the exercise to verify eligibility, eight existing wheelchair basketball players were found not to have an eligible impairment to compete in Paralympic sport.

"The IWBF also deemed one existing player not eligible under its own rules."

A letter has been sent to the IPC by Global Athlete requesting a resolution to allow a transitional period ahead of Tokyo 2020 by no later than September 7.