Britain are among the countries to have criticised the timing of the IPC decision ©Getty Images

Britain, Canada and Germany have criticised the timing of an announcement from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) which threatened wheelchair basketball's place on the Tokyo 2020 programme.

The IPC last week warned the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) that the sport will be removed from this year's Paralympic Games unless the governing body implements an IPC-approved action plan to improve athlete classification by May 29.

Wheelchair basketball has also been dropped from the Paris 2024 programme "with immediate effect", but will be reinstated if the IWBF becomes fully compliant with the IPC Athlete Classification Code by an August 2021 deadline.

The decision from the IPC came with just over 200 days to go until the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics open on August 25.

It has caused uncertainty for players from teams who have already qualified, while tickets for wheelchair basketball at the Games have already been sold.

National wheelchair basketball bodies, athletes and other officials have called on the IWBF to resolve its issues by bringing its classification regulations in line with the IPC.

"It is unacceptable that the IPC and IWBF have left our sport, nationally and globally, in such a precarious position so close to the Tokyo Paralympics," British Wheelchair Basketball said in a statement.

"British Wheelchair Basketball will continue to work tirelessly with other nations to ensure IWBF make the changes required to meet the classification requirements as determined by the IPC."

Wheelchair basketball could miss out on the next two Paralympic Games if the classification issues are not resolved ©Getty Images
Wheelchair basketball could miss out on the next two Paralympic Games if the classification issues are not resolved ©Getty Images

German wheelchair basketball team captain Mareike Miller, a member of the Athleten Deutschland group, also hit out at the IPC and the IWBF.

"The announcement from the IPC hit us deeply," Miller said.

"We all put a tremendous amount of time and energy into qualifying for Tokyo 2020 and the ongoing preparation. 

"This news now – a few months before the start of the Games – and to receive it through a press release is shocking and unacceptable."

Canadian Paralympic Athletes' Council chairman Tony Walby said the group was "disappointed that such a situation has arisen close to 200 days before the start of the Games".

"This can be a big distraction for athletes preparing for the biggest event of their career," Walby added.

"We hope that a resolution can be achieved quickly."

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

"We are confident that the IWBF and the IPC will work towards a practical solution that ensures wheelchair basketball is a part of the programme in Tokyo, in Paris and beyond," the American-based National Wheelchair Basketball Association said in a statement.

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.