IPC ac­cused of ‘il­le­gal’ move to ban ath­letes from Par­a­lympics

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Jeremy Wil­son

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.”

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