Goalball UK has reacted angrily to being overlooked for the women's event at Tokyo 2020 ©Goalball UK

Goalball UK is consulting legal advice after Britain were overlooked for the place in the women's event at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games vacated by Algeria in favour of Egypt.

Algeria this week withdrew from the women's goalball tournament at Tokyo 2020 and their spot was allocated to Egypt by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), despite Britain being the first reserve.

Goalball UK said it was "shocked" by the "totally unjust" decision, which it said "feels like a betrayal to our loyalty and the integrity of fair competition within the sport".

The national governing body promised to "do everything in our power to robustly challenge this decision".

Any slot returned by a National Paralympic Committee after the end of International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) goalball qualification period - March 30 - "can be redistributed at the discretion of the IPC", a spokesperson for the IPC said.

"In line with the IPC’s commitment to ensuring universality and regional representation at the Paralympic Games, the IPC awarded the slot returned by the Algerian women's goalball team to Egypt, the team that placed second in the African Championships," the spokesperson added.

Algeria earned their place at Tokyo 2020 at the IBSA Goalball African Championships last year, where only three teams competed.

A minimum of four teams must be present in order for the competition to meet IBSA criteria for Regional Championships, while IPC regulations state: "In the case that a region does not host a Championships, any available slots will be redistributed via the 2019 IBSA Paralympic qualification ranking tournament allocation method regardless of region."

Goalball UK chose not to contest the status of the event to ensure African representation in the women's Paralympic goalball tournament after claiming it had been told by IBSA that Britain, the highest-ranked non-qualified nation, would receive a place at the Games in case of any withdrawals.

Algeria's withdrawal postponed the goalball draw for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics ©Getty Images
Algeria's withdrawal postponed the goalball draw for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics ©Getty Images

"We understand and appreciate IBSA’s and the IPC’s desire for African participation in the goalball tournament at Paralympics, which is why we took a step back from a robust challenge following the IBSA Goalball African Championships last year," Goalball UK chief executive Mark Winder said.

"However, to now be overlooked again for a place at the Paralympics is a bitter disappointment for us as an organisation and a total injustice to our players and coaches.

"For almost two years, we have had assurances that as first reserve for a place at Tokyo 2020 it could realistically present an opportunity for our women’s Great Britain squad to compete at the Paralympics if there was a withdrawal from the tournament. 

"Unfortunately, it has now become apparent that this was never the case despite Great Britain's ranking.

"We have always been committed partners to IBSA and the IPC and will continue to do so, however, in this instance, this decision feels like a betrayal to our loyalty and the integrity of fair competition within the sport."

Algeria's women's goalball team caused controversy at the 2016 Paralympic Games after they failed to arrive in Rio de Janeiro in time for the start of the competition.

It was suggested Algeria had deliberately arrived late to avoid any meeting with Israel as the two countries do not have any diplomatic relations.

Algerian officials denied this had been the case, claiming they had been unlucky with a series of missed flights and connections.

Algeria's withdrawal from Tokyo 2020 for unknown reasons postponed the draw for the goalball tournaments at the Games, which had been scheduled for last Wednesday (April 21).

In the women's event, Turkey will defend their Paralympic title, with world champions Russia also part of the field.

Brazil, the US, China, Israel, Australia, Canada and Japan complete the line-up.

The men's competition is due to feature defending champions Lithuania and world champions Brazil.

They will be joined by hosts Japan, Germany, Belgium, Algeria, United States, Ukraine, China and Turkey.

Goalball at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics is set to take place between August 24 and September 3.

insidethegames has contacted IBSA for comment.