Australia will seek to defend their men's title in Phuket ©Getty Images

The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) has thanked local organisers in Thailand for ensuring the Asia Oceania Championships can take place, although four teams have withdrawn for COVID-19 reasons.

Competition is due to begin in Phuket on Friday (May 20).

The IWBF Asia Oceania Zone has said China, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia and India have been forced to withdraw from the event due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

Local organisers have been praised for staging the event, however, which will determine the region’s qualifiers for the 2022 IBWF World Championships.

"With the uncertainty that still surrounds the zone due to the COVID pandemic, we are pleased that the event can go ahead thanks to the great efforts of the Local Organising Committee, the Sport Association of Wheelchair Basketball Thailand," said Don Perriman, IWBF Asia Oceania secretary general.

"They have gone above and beyond to ensure the tournament will take place under COVID-19-secure guidelines to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all participants.

"I would like to also extend my thanks to all our zone members for their cooperation in finalising the details of the competition and we are now looking forward to what I have no doubt will be a fantastic Championships."

Hosts Thailand will be joined by Australia, Japan and Iran in the women’s tournament, which will be held in a double round-robin format.

Three qualification places will be on offer, with the United Arab Emirates having taken the fourth position from the region as the hosts of the World Championships.

The men’s competition will feature 11 teams, which have been split into two divisions.

Australia, Iran, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea will compete in Pool A.

Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq and the Philippines have been placed into Pool B of the tournament.

The top two teams in Pool B will join the six Pool A sides in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Australia are the defending champions in the men’s event after beating South Korea 62-45 in the 2019 final.

China were the women’s champions in 2019, winning 53-31 against Australia in the gold-medal match.

The Championships would have served as a qualifier for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games, but the event has now been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.