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Record Number Of National Paralympic Committees Have Athletes Qualified For Tokyo 2020

Eighty-two per cent of quota spots have been filled for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics ©Getty Images

A record number of National Paralympic Committees (NPC) are expected to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) saying 82 per cent of athlete slots have now been awarded for the Games.

As of Monday (June 14), 3,602 qualification spots and 61 universality wildcards spots have been allocated over the 22 sports.

All qualification 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 bipartite invitation places are to still to be allocated.

Bipartite slots are awarded to ensure greater representation on a number of levels, and ensure the participation of top-level athletes who have not qualified through over methods.

To date, 168 NPCs have been awarded at least one berth for Tokyo 2020.

The record number of nations to compete at a Paralympics was 164 at London 2012 - meaning if all NPCs with spots send a team, the record will be broken.

"With 10 weeks to go until the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony, we are very much on course in terms of qualification," said Colleen Wrenn, the IPC's Paralympic Games chief of delivery.

"Huge credit needs to go to the International Federations for not just staging qualification events during the last 16 months but doing so safely.

"To have 168 NPCs secure their participation so far is an outstanding result and puts us on course to set a new record in terms of global participation at the Games.

"With some NPCs looking to compete at the Games for the first time, it underlines the growing strength, breadth and depth of the Paralympic Movement.

"Our hope now is that all NPCs take up their slots and wildcards and ensure Tokyo 2020 are record breaking Games."

Qualification is still ongoing in archery, athletics, judo, powerlifting, shooting and triathlon.

The IPC is also looking into the possibility of conducting classification in 10 sports in Tokyo itself.

COVID-19 has bad impacted classification, with the lack of international competitions meaning many athletes have not been classified.

"It is fair to say the pandemic has played havoc with classification opportunities around the globe over the last 16 months," added Wrenn.

"What we are trying to do now is work with International Federations and NPCs to classify as many athletes as possible prior to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

"Despite this, it is clear some athletes will still need to be classified in Tokyo ahead of the Games.

"Although this is not ideal, it is the situation we face."

The IPC estimates that more than 80 per cent of athletes will be vaccinated ahead of the Paralympics, which are set to be held from August 24 to September 5.

By Michael Houston 

 

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