A record number of National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) are expected to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) saying that 82 percent of athlete slots have now been awarded for the Games.
As of Monday (June 14), 3,602 qualifying spots and 61 universality wildcards have been distributed across the 22 sports.
All qualifying spots have been awarded in nine sports – boccia, canoeing, equestrian, football, goalball, taekwondo, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.
In badminton, cycling, rowing, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair fencing and wheelchair tennis, only the two-part invitation places still need to be allocated.
Two-piece slots are awarded to ensure greater representation at a number of levels and to ensure the participation of elite athletes who have not qualified through excessive methods.
To date, 168 NPCs have been awarded at least one berth for Tokyo 2020.
The record number of countries participating in a Paralympic Games was 164 in London 2012 – meaning if all NPCs with spots send a team, the record will be broken.
“With 10 weeks to go until the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, we are well on track for qualifying,” said Colleen Wrenn, IPC Paralympic Games Director.
“Great credit must be given to the international federations for not only organizing qualifying events in the last 16 months, but also for doing them safely.
“The fact that 168 NPCs have secured their participation to date is an excellent result and puts us on track to set a new record for global participation in the Games.
“With some NPCs looking to enter the Games for the first time, this underlines the growing strength, breadth and depth of the Paralympic Movement.
“Our hope now is that all NPCs use their slots and wildcards and make Tokyo 2020 become record-breaking games.”
Qualifications are still underway in archery, track and field, judo, powerlifting, shooting and triathlon.
The IPC is also exploring the possibility of conducting classification into 10 sports in Tokyo itself.
COVID-19 has a bad impact on classification, with the lack of international competitions meaning many athletes are not classified.
“It’s fair to say that over the past 16 months, the pandemic has ravaged classification capabilities around the world,” Wrenn added.
“What we are trying to do now is work with international federations and NPCs to classify as many athletes as possible ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“Despite this, it is clear that some athletes still have to be classified before the Tokyo Games.
“While this is not ideal, it is the situation we are facing.”
The IPC estimates that more than 80 percent of athletes will be vaccinated ahead of the Paralympic Games, which will take place from August 24 to September 5.
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