CPC statement on wheelchair basketball athlete eligibility announcement

Canadian Paralympic Committee

June 18, 2020

IWBF today announced results of first phase of athlete eligibility assessments

CPC CEO Karen O'Neill speaking at an event

OTTAWA – The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation today announced the results of the first phase of their athlete eligibility assessments. The IWBF will ultimately be reassessing all international wheelchair basketball players in order to comply with the International Paralympic Committee’s Athlete Classification Code and remain part of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games program. 

For more information, please read Wheelchair Basketball Canada’s statement HERE. 

Statement from Karen O’Neill, CEO, Canadian Paralympic Committee: 

At the Canadian Paralympic Committee, our first priority will always be the athletes and their well-being. We know how difficult this has been for not only the athletes affected, but the entire national teams and wheelchair basketball community as a whole. We support Wheelchair Basketball Canada and all of our Canadian athletes during this transition. 

Our women’s and men’s teams are coming off incredible seasons and performances at the Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games, which qualified them for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, and we know the work they have been putting in to improve and be at their best. To have the uncertainty of their own eligibility to compete, in addition to the impacts of COVID-19, now hanging over them is absolutely not something they should have to be worrying about so close to a Paralympic Games. 

We would like to acknowledge the impact the decisions from today have on the career of longtime team member David Eng. We are incredibly disappointed to see his outstanding career end this way. David is a Paralympic champion, Canadian team flag bearer, exceptional leader, and remarkable person who will always be part of our community. The positive effects of his decades-long contributions to his sport and the Paralympic Movement will stand eternally. 

We believe in the work to continually review classification, which is critical for the future of Paralympic sport. However, it must be done in an equitable manner with thoughts of the athletes at the forefront. 

The Paralympic community is a welcoming, inclusive environment, and we will continue to live by those values. We will await all of the final assessments and will stand behind WBC and our athletes throughout it all.  

Statement from Tony Walby, Chair, Canadian Paralympic Athletes’ Council: 

Our thoughts today are with the athletes – those who now know the results of their assessments and those who are still waiting. We expressly would like to recognize David Eng, who has been a distinguished leader for Canada on the court for so many years. He has always been proud to represent Canada and he has made just as much of an impact on Paralympic sport off the court. 

All of the athletes have worked so hard over the last few years, and have made the commitment and sacrifices to train with the national team and to fulfill their dreams of competing for Canada at the Paralympic Games. Making these decisions to potentially rule athletes ineligible – when they have been eligible up until this point – at the end of a quadrennial and so close to the Paralympic Games is truly unjust not only for the athletes directly affected but for their teammates as well. This will have a ripple effect on the sport. Our support is behind the athletes as this process continues.

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