Wheelchair basketball could be removed from the Tokyo 2020 programme ©Getty Images

Wheelchair basketball will be removed from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games programme if the sport's worldwide governing body fails to comply with the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) classification rules.

In a statement, the IPC said the sport had also lost its place at Paris 2024 "with immediate effect", but would be reinstated if the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) becomes "fully compliant" with the IPC Athlete Classification Code by the August 2021 deadline.

The IWBF has been given until May 29 to implement an IPC-approved action plan to improve athlete classification, or it could be cut from this year's Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

It comes amid concerns over classification for wheelchair basketball players as the IWBF defines eligibility impairments differently to the mandatory IPC rules.

The IWBF has failed to bring its regulations in line with the IPC rules despite being on notice for "several years," the IPC added.

IPC President Andrew Parsons claimed the organisation had reached "breaking point" with the IWBF and warned "substantial work" is needed to resolve the situation.

"We appreciate that wheelchair basketball is one of the most popular sports at the Paralympic Games, but this does not mean that the IWBF is above the rules," Parsons said.

"Athlete classification is integral to all Paralympic sport and the failure of any sport to comply with the IPC Athlete Classification Code is of critical concern to us because it could threaten the integrity of competition.

"Sadly, this is not a new issue and the IWBF has been on notice of this matter for several years and has been provided ample time and opportunity to address it.

"Throughout this period, we have been very clear to the IWBF that changes must be made in advance of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

"The ball is now very much in wheelchair basketball’s court, as it has been for some time now. 

"The IWBF know exactly what measures they need to take between now and this May."

Wheelchair basketball has been cut from the Paris 2024 programme with immediate effect ©Getty Images
Wheelchair basketball has been cut from the Paris 2024 programme with immediate effect ©Getty Images

In response, IWBF President Ulf Mehrens said the organisation received the IPC decision with "much regret and sadness".

Regina Costa, chair of the IWBF Classification Commission, disputed the claims from the IPC and insisted the governing body had made progress in its attempt to align its rules with the IPC.

"We have been trying to work with IPC for a long time to adjust our regulations to ensure they meet the IPC Classification Code, so for the IPC to insinuate that as a federation we have not done anything is incorrect," Costa said.

Men's wheelchair basketball has featured at every Paralympic Games since 1960, while a women's competition made its debut at the event eight years later.

It has grown to become one of the most popular Paralympic sports but it could miss the next two editions of the Games unless it addresses the concerns outlined by the IPC.

"Despite our disappointment, IWBF acknowledges the current action by the IPC and I kindly request all athletes, teams and member nations for their cooperation and understanding as IWBF prepare to take on the challenges we will have in the next months," Mehrens added.

"We hope to have the collaboration and support from all our national federations as we do everything possible to serve our wheelchair basketball community and make sure wheelchair basketball secures it place in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and future Paralympic Games."