The International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC’s) Governing Board has conditionally reinstated the sport of wheelchair basketball onto the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games sports programme after reviewing the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation’s (IWBF) progress on developing Classification Rules that are compliant to the 2015 IPC Athlete Classification Code. The conditional reinstatement is in place until IWBF fully implements its new classification rules, including the assessment of minimum impairment criteria.
In January 2020, IPC’s Governing Board declared IWBF non-compliant with the 2015 IPC Athlete Classification Code, and set a deadline for compliance to be met by no later than 31 August 2021 for the sport to remain as part of the Paralympic Movement and be reinstated to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games sports programme.
Since the initial sanctions were introduced, with the support of its nations and the IPC, the IWBF has worked hard to develop new classification rules compliant with the Code. IWBF has also developed an implementation plan for how its new classification system and rules will be successfully implemented.
Following an IPC Governing Board meeting at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, where the Governing Board discussed IWBF’s work on this subject (including reviewing the IWBF’s detailed report on its compliance progress), the Board was pleased with the progress made by IWBF and the decision to reinstate wheelchair basketball back onto the Paris 2024 sports programme was made.
The decision is conditional dependent on a number of stipulations; including, but not limited to:
• IWBF effectively and thoroughly actioning its implementation plan for the new 2021 Classification Rules, as well as actioning its stated future plans with regards classification;
• IWBF assessing all internationally classified wheelchair basketball players against the new minimum impairment criteria included in the Classification Rules within the transition period (ending on 31 December 2022).
• Full collaboration, cooperation and transparency with IPC and its members regarding the ongoing actions including quarterly reporting (beginning from December 2021), and engagement of IPC personnel within the training and classification reassessments.
The IPC remain committed to supporting IWBF in delivering its implementation plan, but the IWBF are aware that failure to meet the conditions outlined could result in sanctions in accordance with the Code.
IPC President Andrew Parsons said: “The IPC is pleased with the significant progress made by the IWBF over the last six months in its efforts to achieve Code compliance.
“Due to the ambitiousness of the IWBF’s implementation plan, it is reasonable and necessary for some conditions to be attached to the Board’s compliance decision. The conditions are designed to provide assurance that the implementation plan is being followed, and to provide support to IWBF where necessary. The conditions will require ongoing collaboration, transparency and co-operation between IWBF and the IPC. This has been integral in reaching this point and will remain so for the success of the implementation plan.
“The expectation now from the IPC is that the IWBF’s membership, and particularly the athletes, are kept informed about the progress and any further changes made to classification. The IPC will always support the IWBF in its work to further develop its classification systems. We look forward to this successful working relationship continuing and this being the beginning of a new chapter.”
IWBF President Ulf Mehrens, said: “We are thankful that IPC has recognised the extensive work that has been done to update our rules and ensure they are aligned with the IPC’s Code and are pleased with the progress IWBF has made so far to become code compliant.
“To have wheelchair basketball reinstated onto the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games programme is important not only for our members whose goal it is to compete in a Paralympics, but it is invaluable for the sport to be showcased in one of the biggest global sporting celebrations allowing us to capture and inspire future generations.
“Classification is the cornerstone to all Para sport and for wheelchair basketball it is no different. It is the responsibility of IWBF to make sure that the high standards of classification for the sport of wheelchair basketball have a fair and transparent Classification system that meets the IPC Athlete Classification Code and International Standards.
“On behalf of the whole of IWBF I would like to express our deepest gratitude to our members and players for their cooperation and support throughout this process. Sincere thanks must also go to all those external stakeholders whose assistance has made it possible, especially the IPC for their collaboration and guidance to get us to this point. We look forward to continuing to work with the IPC as we are fully committed to realising our plans and becoming leaders for classification in Para sport.”
The changes to the IWBF Classification Rules and Regulations for international wheelchair basketball will come into effect from the 1 October 2021.
As part of the revision of the Classification Rules, an updated Classification Manual has been produced.
All international wheelchair basketball players will be reassessed against the new Minimum Impairment Criteria and for those who do not meet the criteria a transition period until the end of December 2022 has been included within the rules. The IWBF also developed a plan to re-train its existing and new classifiers.