South Africa will host the wheelchair basketball qualifiers for the 2020 Para Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo in August.
The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) made the changes in an announcement on Wednesday, which means that Kenyan men’s and women’s team, who won the zonal qualifiers in Nairobi in October will travel to South Africa in a bid to win the single ticket reserved for the continent for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020.
“South Africa has been awarded the rights to host the 2020 Afro Paralympic Qualifiers in Johannesburg next year after Morocco declined to stage the competition. The new dates for the qualifiers will be from March 4-14,” said IWBF in a statement.
Kenya men’s wheelchair basketball team is working on the shooting skills in Nairobi and assistant coach Sarah Onzere said preparation is on the right track and hope the team will be ready for the challenge in South Africa.
“I have a very physically fit team, but we lack in some areas and that is what I am working on. We have our work cut out in terms of shooting prowess for the low pointers,” Onzere said on Wednesday in Nairobi.
The last time Kenya ventured on the international scene was back in 2007 Africa Games, where they missed the medal bracket to finish fourth behind winners Algeria, Egypt and Morocco.
All the four teams together with host South Africa will be in Johannesburg for the battle to clinch the Africa ticket to Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020.
“The 2020 Afro Paralympics’ Qualifiers will now act as IWBF Africa’s Zone qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games to replace the Africa Para Games which were cancelled last month,” IWBF said.
In October, Kenya won the East Africa Wheelchair Basketball Zone 5 Championships after both the men’s and women’s teams beat Uganda in Nairobi. The victory meant Kenya will be the region’s representative in the wheelchair basketball discipline at the Africa Para-games in South Africa.
IWBF Executive Council made the decision to shift the Africa qualifiers from Morocco to South Africa last week following three bids from interested parties to host the qualification tournament.
“We are delighted to be able to have stepped in and to host the Africa Zone’s qualification tournament at such short notice. We have a long legacy of running world-class events and we hope to be able to showcase this in Johannesburg again next year,” said Wheelchair Basketball South Africa’s President, Craig Moorgas.
Already, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and Spain from the European Zone, have all earned qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games following the conclusion of the 2019 Women’s European Championship in Rotterdam.
There will be 12 teams in the men’s competition and 10 teams in the women’s competition. Japan as host nation received an automatic spot, then each of the four zones is awarded one place each in both competitions.
The remaining seven places in the men’s competition and five places in the women’s competition are to be decided from the final rankings of the last World Championships.
The top seven ranked men’s teams and the top five ranked women’s teams each earn an additional qualification spot for their respective zone.