IPC accused of ‘illegal’ move to ban athletes from Paralympics
The International Paralympic Committee has been accused of violating the rights of athletes and an “illegal” decision after eight wheelchair basketball players were deemed ineligible for next year’s Games in Tokyo.
Global Athlete, the international athlete-led movement, is challenging the lawful basis for athletes who have qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics to now be told that they do not meet impairment criteria.
The Daily Telegraph revealed last month how George Bates, a world champion with Great Britain, had been deemed ineligible after the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation was told to reassess players or have the entire sport thrown out of the Paralympics.
Bates is registered disabled but was ruled out because the specific condition which has caused his problems – chronic regional pain syndrome – is not accepted under the IPC’s 10-point classification code for disability.
In its open letter, Global Athlete questioned the IPC process, saying athletes had been assessed by the IWBF and found to be eligible for participation in IWBF competitions and that the players were caught in the middle of a governance dispute between the IPC and the IWBF.
The letter said: “A broad consensus exists among athletes and legal advisers internationally that the belated reassessment of certain players is unlawful and grossly violates the athletes’ rights.”
But the IPC said its code was approved by its membership in 2015 following a long consultation.
“The IPC’s rules clearly state that any sport that wishes to be part of the Paralympic Games programme must abide by the IPC’s rules,” said a spokesperson. “So far, as part of the exercise to verify eligibility, eight existing wheelchair basketball players were found not to have an eligible impairment to compete in Paralympic sport.”