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IPC claim US Open organisers using COVID-19 to discriminate


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The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have accused US Open organisers of making a regressive step. 

The Grand Slam will get underway from August 31st in New York, but wheelchair competitors will be absent.

The US Tennis Association said earlier this week that this year's US Open would "be modified in a variety of ways" as result of the pandemic.

They want to limit the number of individuals on site at one time.

The IPC say the challenges posed by COVID-19 are not an excuse to discriminate against a group of players.

They're asking the USTA to reconsider its decision to not include wheelchair tennis at Flushing Meadows.

IPC President Andrew Parsons says the decision to exclude the sport would "undo years of great work to promote and showcase the sport of wheelchair tennis".

"We appreciate that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up multiple challenges for sport event organisers all around the world," Parsons added, "But such challenges should not be used as an excuse to discriminate against a group of players and not offer inclusive competition for all.

“There has been tremendous progress in recent years to advance wheelchair tennis and promote inclusion, not least by USTA and at the US Open.

"However, just as we cannot have a situation where athletes are barred from sporting events on the grounds of race, gender, nationality or sexuality, they should not be stopped from competing because they play in a wheelchair.

“I am grateful that the International Tennis Federation is speaking with event organisers to try and find a solution to ensure that wheelchair tennis players can safely compete at the US Open."

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) have already weighed in on the issue, saying:

The ITF understands and shares the disappointment felt by many that it may not be possible for this year’s US Open to host a Wheelchair event.

We fully appreciate the huge logistical challenges faced by organisers in what are unprecedented times. It is right that in the midst of a global pandemic, the safety of all competitors must be the first and only priority.

We continue to discuss with the organisers potential approaches that could allow the Wheelchair Tennis competition to take place either on or off site.

The ITF is also continuing to ensure that plans are in place so players can safely get back on court as soon as possible through the resumption of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour ahead of Roland Garros in September.  

"After decades of progress in wheelchair tennis, this feels like a regressive step", said Chelsey Gotell, chairperson of the IPC Athletes’ Council.

"After decades of progress in wheelchair tennis, this feels like a regressive step. We fully appreciate that just now it is a difficult task to put on any sporting event.

"Safety of athletes is our number one priority too, but if you can securely host tournaments for male and female athletes, then you can put them on for wheelchair athletes who want to compete as well.

"I’m also disappointed at the lack of consultation here. It has been an incredibly challenging year for Para athletes, many of whom make a modest income from sport.

"To make decisions that directly impacts on their welfare and not communicate with them seems misguided. I hope that USTA rectifies this and includes athletes in all further discussions."


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