The National Wheelchair Basketball Association and their CEO address last week’s decision that was handed down concerning Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024
Since news broke late last week of the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) decision against the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) and the federation’s classification system of athletes, wheelchair basketball players, especially ones in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) have been in a state of limbo trying to figure out what will happen to Tokyo 2020 Paralympic play with less than six months until the start of the games.
This is not to mention, for the moment, the tournament scheduled for Paris 2024’s Paralympic games has been taken off the docket.
The NWBA, which is the official wheelchair basketball league for the United States, sent out a statement on their website at the end of last week. What the statement makes certain is that they wanted all members to know it does not affect all of its players.
“This eligibility debate does not apply at all to our NWBA League play,” The statement from NWBA Board of Directors says. “More specifically, if you are not in the High Performance (National Team) Pool, there is no action required on your part.”
The statement by the league also goes on to say that the classification system for athletes is different than that of the IWBF.
“The NWBA is a self-governed organization, which has eligibility requirements in its By-Laws. That means our membership votes to determine eligibility requirements for the NWBA,” according to the statement.
When asked for his thoughts and clarification, Will Waller, CEO of the NWBA says,
“Eligibility to compete is rightfully a highly charged topic of discussion with a wide range of opinions. The silver lining of the recent news is that it brings this discussion back to the forefront and in a highly visible way. Each organization has voting members that will continue to determine eligibility for their respective membership,”
Waller added, “I’m confident that both parties will work collaboratively towards a resolution, providing wheelchair basketball athletes the opportunity to put their skills on display on the greatest world stage for adaptive sports, The Paralympic Games, while at the same time satisfying the governance requirements of both organizations.”
Already taking effect is the action plan the NWBA, so that if the games could be played in Tokyo 2020, it will be successfully done under the watchful eye of the IPC and the IWBF.
“The NWBA will focus on what it can control at this time, and that is to ensure our athletes are aware of the required steps and are supported in meeting the deadlines set forth in the IPC/IWBF action plan,“ Waller says.
Waller remains hopeful about a possible outcome that will help all sides in this disagreement.
“I’m hopeful that this prompts our members to become more informed and get more involved,” Waller says.
For the full statement from the NWBA, please visit nwba.org.