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Canadian wheelchair basketball player ruled ineligible to compete at Tokyo 2020

Four-time Canadian Paralympian and two-time Paralympic gold medallist David Eng has been ruled ineligible to compete at Tokyo 2020.

The decision came down on Thursday as a result of the athlete eligibility reassessment process conducted by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

“This is obviously not how I intended to end my international career and I’m disappointed to not be able to finish what I started with my teammates next year in Tokyo,” Eng, of Montreal, said in a statement. “At the same time, this sport has brought a lot to myself and my family and it’s all the positives that I’m going to remember.”

Three other current Canadian team athletes have been ruled eligible, while the remaining athletes are still pending review.

“Today is a very sad day for Canadian wheelchair basketball,” Wheelchair Basketball Canada executive director Wendy Gittens said in a release. “While we are disappointed to see [Eng’s] career with Team Canada end in this way, we are incredibly grateful to David for his leadership and enduring commitment to the national team program for so many years. He has represented Canada with class and distinction throughout his illustrious career.

“On behalf of the entire Canadian wheelchair basketball community, I want to personally thank David for his commitment to excellence, and many contributions to Team Canada. He will always be a part of the Canadian wheelchair basketball family.”

The eligibility reassessment is being undertaken as a requirement for the IWBF to become compliant with the IPC Athlete Classification Code.

The reassessment process is taking place in two phases in order for wheelchair basketball to remain part of the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

“Minimal disability athletes such as David have long been eligible to compete within international rules, and have legitimately and fairly participated in the Paralympics up until this point,” Gittens said.

“All of our athletes, including David, are our topmost priority and we will continue to stand by them throughout this difficult process.”

Phase one of reassessment covers all athletes in the 4.0 and 4.5 sport classes. Cases are being reviewed by an IWBF Eligibility Assessment Panel (EAP) and members of the IPC Classification Commission.

Out of respect to the ongoing process and the athletes still awaiting decisions, Wheelchair Basketball Canada says they will not be identifying the outcomes for any other athletes at this time.

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