By Gary Anderson

Para-badminton will make its Paralympic Games debut after being approved for Tokyo 2020 by the IPC ©Badminton EnglandBadminton will make its Paralympic Games debut at Tokyo 2020 after it was one of 16 sports approved today for inclusion on the programme for the Games.

Badminton and taekwondo were the two sports vying for a first Paralympic Games appearance in six years' time.

Following presentations by both the Badminton World Federation and the World Taekwondo Federation to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board in Berlin, badminton has made the list.

Taekwondo is still in with a chance of making it to Tokyo 2020 as the IPC has deferred a final decision on the complete line-up of 23 sports until its next Governing Board meeting scheduled for Abu Dhabi on January 30 and February 1 next year.

Following the submission of applications from the eligible sports, the IPC management team assessed 23 of the 24 applications received and made recommendations to the IPC Governing Board, approving 16 sports.

The IPC revealed that the International Cycling Union (UCI) only submitted its application late last week and as a result there was insufficient time for it to be assessed in time for the meeting in Berlin.

It will now assess the application, identifying any issues they may have with it, before the Governing Board discuss it in Abu Dhabi.

Joining badminton on the approved list of sports for Tokyo 2020 so far are athletics, archery, boccia, equestrian, goalball, powerlifting, rowing, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, triathlon, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.

Along with Para-taekwondo and cycling, canoe, football five-a-side, football seven-a-side, judo, sailing and wheelchair fencing will find out their fate in Abu Dhabi.

Para-taekwondo will have to wait until early next year to find out if it has made the cut for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games ©WTFPara-taekwondo will have to wait until early next year to find out if it has made the cut for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games ©WTF

"Our aim is to ensure that the final Tokyo 2020 Paralympic sports programme is fresh and features the best Para-sports possible," said IPC President Sir Philip Craven.

"I would like to thank all the sports who submitted their applications.

"This has been an extensive and rigorous review process and all sports were assessed against the same criteria.

"Although we can have a maximum of 23 sports in six years' time, we have an option to reduce the number of sports in order to ensure we have a compelling and attractive Para-sports programme.

"I would like to congratulate the 16 sports that we have already confirmed will be included in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, in particular badminton, who after missing out four years ago, submitted a very strong application.

"The IPC looks forward to working with the Badminton World Federation over the coming years to manage their smooth transition into the 2020 sports programme."

The criteria used by the IPC in deciding the Tokyo 2020 line-up included worldwide participation in terms of countries and continents where the sport is regularly practiced, quadrennial competition programme, athlete classification, anti-doping programmes, rules and regulations, and initiatives undertaken to make their sport more attractive.

"For the eight sports still in the running, we identified a number of issues with their submissions, or, in the case of UCI, it was submitted too late to be assessed at this meeting," added Sir Philip.

"These sports must now provide further information on the issues identified during the review process if they wish to remain part of, or join, the Paralympic programme.

"The IPC Governing Board will re-evaluate these applications when it meets in Abu Dhabi and will make its final decision on the number of sports, and which sports will be included in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic sports programme.

"During its deliberations in Berlin, the Governing Board members particularly took into consideration the Para-athletes who could be affected by the final decision.

"It is now up to the eight International Federations to deliver the required information to the IPC."

London 2012 Paralympic sailing champion Helena Lucas of Great Britain will have to wait until early next year to find out if she could potentially be competing at Tokyo 2020 ©Paul Wyeth/RYALondon 2012 sailing champion Helena Lucas of Great Britain will have to wait until early next year to find out if she could potentially be competing at Tokyo 2020 ©RYA

Taekwondo made an unsuccessful bid for Rio 2016 and for its latest attempt only the Kyorugi discipline is being considered for inclusion in the Games.

Reacting to today's news a source close to the WTF told insidethegames: "Whilst this is disappointing news, we will redouble our efforts to ensure taekwondo will achieve a positive outcome at the next IPC Governing Board meeting in January.

"We are convinced that we can add significant value to the IPC programme with an exciting and dynamic sport at the Paralympic Games."

Badminton had also made a fruitless bid for Rio 2016, eventually losing out to triathlon and canoeing which are two of 22 sports on the Paralympic programme in the Brazilian city. 

But today's decision has been hailed as "a dream come true" by President of the BWF Poul-Erik Høyer.

"On behalf of the Badminton World Federation, I would like to thank the IPC Governing Board for this landmark opportunity which they have given to athletes with impairments in the badminton community," said Høyer.

"Today is a dream come true for so many talented competitors who have shone on the badminton courts and who have yearned to do so at the highest level of sport for para-athletes.

"We have worked hard in their name and for their cause and we are humbled and honoured by this decision that will bring joy to so many of our players."

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