International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) President Rudi van den Abbeele has backed the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and said the body would work hard to ensure the rescheduled event is a success.
Van den Abbeele posted a statement reflecting on the postponement of the Paralympic Games, which was confirmed on Tuesday (March 24).
Both the Paralympics and the Olympics will be rescheduled for the first time, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Van den Abbeele said both the wheelchair fencing and powerchair hockey calendar had been heavily impacted by the pandemic, with numerous events postponed.
This included the IWAS World Games, as well as the Paralympics.
“Of course as we all know the coronavirus pandemic has caused the cancellation or postponement of many major sports events, including the entire IWAS calendar," van den Abbeele said.
“And now we will no longer be heading to Tokyo in August for the Paralympic Games.
“This is an unprecedented moment in time.
“The Olympic and Paralympic Games have never before been postponed and have only been cancelled during wartime.
“The decision to delay the Games until 2021 however is one that has not been taken lightly and is welcomed by IWAS.
“It has been taken not only in the interests of the global community, to protect the vulnerable, but also to preserve the competitive integrity of the Paralympics.
“Over the last weeks we have seen the global sports calendar more or less completely destroyed, and many athletes cannot even leave their homes to train let alone prepare for the performance of their lives.
“This is the right thing to do.”
Van den Abbeele added that IWAS would work hard to support organisers with the next steps.
“I thank the International Paralympic Committee for their support and advocacy for Para-athletes during this time,” van den Abbeele added.
“We will now be awaiting further guidance on what our next steps should be to prepare in the best way for the new arrangements, and will communicate with all our stakeholders when we know more.
“I would like to reassure all athletes and IWAS members that we will continue to work hard to ensure that the Paralympic Games in 2021 will be a tremendous success.
“I am confident that the Games will emerge like a phoenix from the flames and give the global community hope and inspiration once more.
“Thank you for your support and remember to stay safe.”
The Paralympic Games were scheduled to be held from August 25 to September 6 2020.