Five additional current Canadian National Team athletes have been ruled eligible to compete at the Paralympic Games as part of the ongoing review of athlete eligibility by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
This is the second and final ruling involving Canadian athletes in phase one of the reassessment process, which covers all athletes in the 4.0 and 4.5 sport classes. All of the pending Canadian cases, which involved minimal disability athletes, were approved by the IWBF. The first set of results were released on June 18.
Statement from Wheelchair Basketball Canada (WBC) Executive Director Wendy Gittens:
“Wheelchair Basketball Canada is relieved to receive confirmation from the IWBF on the eligibility of the remaining Canadian athletes in phase one of the review and move forward with our preparations for Tokyo 2020. However, we cannot ignore the immense toll this situation has taken on the athletes and the integrity of the game.
WBC is extremely frustrated with how this process has been handled by the IWBF and the IPC. It has been thoroughly unfair to the athletes and the negative impact it has caused cannot be understated. The athletes have not had a voice in these life-altering decisions and the timing has caused much uncertainty and undue stress four years into the Paralympic cycle. That is fundamentally wrong and underscores the failure of the IWBF and the IPC to put athletes first.
As a member of the IWBF, WBC is calling for the international federation to take meaningful and immediate action to restore trust in its governance of the sport, improve transparency and communication with its membership and the athlete community, and repair its relationship with the IPC.
As an organization that upholds inclusion as a core value, WBC believes wheelchair basketball brings people of all abilities together. There will always be a place in the game for everyone in Canada.”
Statement from Wheelchair Basketball Canada Athlete Representative Brandon Wagner:
“This dark cloud of uncertainty has finally lifted and our athletes can now shift their focus back to the basketball court. While that is a positive outcome, this process has done considerable damage to the athletes who are the backbone of the sport and the Paralympic Movement.
The IWBF and the IPC failed the athletes in their handling of this situation. The global wheelchair basketball community can only hope they work to resolve their differences to protect the athletes and the game going forward.. ”