The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has rejected an arrangement that would allow athletes currently deemed ineligible in the classification reassessment process being undertaken by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) to play in major events, including Tokyo 2020.
The IPC Governing Board did not give its approval to the IWBF proposal of a transition period until September 30 that would include the Paralympics, due to take place from August 24 to September 5, the European Championships for Men Division B, and the Men’s Under-23 European Championships.
IWBF President Ulf Mehrens, said: "It was our hope and desire to try to find a solution that allowed the impacted players the option to compete at the postponed 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games or any of the other relevant competitions, with the support of the IPC.
"However, this has not transpired.
"We understand this news will be immensely disappointing for all concerned and we wholeheartedly feel for our players who will not have the opportunity to now compete in these scheduled competitions due to the reassessments."
An initial transition period request had been refused by IPC in January 2020, primarily based on administrative inaccuracies and misjudgement of the appropriate procedures, and IWBF felt that players should not be impacted because of this.
Therefore, following consultation with IWBF’s Member Federations and players, IWBF again approached IPC in January 2021 asking them to reconsider granting a transitional period for players impacted by the classification reassessment process.
A three-year review process of the 2015 Athlete Classification Code is set to begin.https://t.co/HqcB0vPtEk— Paralympic Games (@Paralympics) March 15, 2021
A comprehensive transition proposal was submitted to the IPC Governing Board at the end of February 2021 for consideration by its meeting in March, where the decision was made to not approve the renewed request for a transition period.
The IPC communicated this decision to IWBF last Thursday (April 8).
An IWBF release said: "As stated in all previous communication, IWBF continues to be committed to modifying all the IWBF Classification Regulations and Rules to align with the IPC’s Athlete Classification Code and become compliant by the 31 August 2021 deadline stipulated by the IPC, to allow the sport of wheelchair basketball to remain in the Paralympic movement and be reinstated onto the sport programme for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games."
The IPC has confirmed "a number of athletes" have yet to be classified ahead Tokyo 2020, which was postponed last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Japanese capital Tokyo is due to stage the Games in just six months’ time but many athletes are still waiting to find out which categories they will compete in.
The IPC claimed the wait for classifications was "impacting" 10 of the 22 Paralympic sports, although the organisation would not specify what they were.
The delay is said to come as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which caused events to be cancelled or postponed last year.