A few months before the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, it should have been time for the final minor adjustments to get on the podium. In most team sports, France, as the host nation, is already guaranteed to be there for the summer 2024 crowds. But wheelchair basketball teams will have to participate in a dangerous Paralympic qualifying tournament in Osaka, Japan, in April. For women; for men in Antibes (Alpes-Maritimes).
This extremely rare condition came to the attention of the French clan late. “The failure of our teams to qualify for the Games was officially announced via video conference in June 2022.says Stéphane Binot, sports director of French wheelchair basketball. We kept in touch with the decision makers for months but couldn’t change anything. » This decision is the result of long discussions between different officials whose roles are not always clearly defined.
It all started with the decision of the International Paralympic Committee to reduce the number of teams participating in the Paralympic competition in Paris from twelve to eight. A precaution taken “To be able to embrace other disciplines and shed light on them”Mr. Binot thinks so. The committee therefore forwarded its directive to the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation, which had to rethink the selection system accordingly.
The federation, with only eight teams participating in the Paralympic Games, therefore considered abolishing direct qualification for the host country in the interest of fairness in the sport. According to the information received WorldIf he had, he would have conducted a survey of other wheelchair basketball countries to get their opinions on this option. The results of this consultation, which was not publicly disclosed and which France had to request, would be 50 percent “in favor” and 50 percent “against” votes.
The international federation has finally made its decision: there will be no “free pass” for the Blues. It was a heavy blow for the para-athletes involved, who despite having an eight-team tournament also saw their counterparts in wheelchair rugby and sitting volleyball qualify directly.
The federation, through its general secretary Norbert Kucera, confirms: “I totally understand” Disappointment of the French and wishes for them ” good luck “ To validate your tickets. However, the German leader also wants to point out the following: “The qualification system, which was introduced after the surprising decrease in the number of teams participating in the games, was accepted by the Paralympic Committee. » This system must “Let the best teams participate”, on his terms. Mr. Kucera also said the committee “It is recommended that the organizing country maintain automatic qualification” – information that has nevertheless been communicated to us.