The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has urged the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) to take further action against the assistant coach of China’s women’s team following a disturbing incident that took place during the 2018 World Championships.
Video evidence from Saturday’s game between Algeria and China in Hamburg, Germany, shows the assistant coach of the Chinese women’s team striking a player’s face during the half-time team talk.
Based on the IWBF’s current legal framework, the assistant coach has been sanctioned with a one-game suspension which was served during Wednesday’s game with Germany. The IPC believes the punishment is too lenient and further action needs to be taken.
Xavier Gonzalez, the IPC’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Athlete welfare is of paramount importance to everyone at the IPC and the intimidating actions of the Chinese women’s coach have absolutely no place whatsoever in the Paralympic Movement or in sport as a whole.
“Although the sanction of a one game suspension for the assistant coach is consistent with the IWBF’s current legal framework, I encourage them to go further as the current punishment does not adequately address the priority of athlete welfare.
“As the IWBF is an independent sport federation, the IPC has no jurisdiction over the federation’s rules and regulations. Therefore, we cannot impose a further sanction in this case. That is why we hope they will explore all options available to them to take further action against the perpetrator in this case
“At the same time as encouraging the IWBF to consider further action, we also have issued a letter to the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of China, our member, requesting from them an account of what measures they are taking to better ensure athlete welfare in Para sport in China. We also have asked for clarity on whether they believe this coach’s behaviour is indeed an isolated incident or whether they need to address a more widespread problem within their territory.”
Chelsey Gotell, IPC Athletes’ Council Chairperson, said: “I know I am not the only athlete within the Paralympic Movement to be appalled at this incident. No athlete taking part in sport should feel bullied or intimidated.
“I sincerely hope that the IWBF goes further with its punishment in order to send out a clear message to all athletes that their welfare is a priority.
“In my view this incident underlines the importance for the IWBF to have an Athletes’ Council or athlete representative who can work with them to develop rules and regulations for the sport that are in line with protecting and safeguarding all athletes.
“I hope NPC China treats this incident extremely seriously and initiates measures to ensure that all of their athletes are safe from abuse 365 days a year.”