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Wheelchair Rugby added to Asian Para-Games

Japan drive in a goal against USA
Japan drive in a goal against USA
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The future of Wheelchair Rugby in Asia has taken a great stride on Tuesday as it was announced that Wheelchair Rugby will be featuring in the Asian Para-Games in 2014.

It is the first time that Wheelchair Rugby will be included in Asia’s premier summer para-sport event and is a great boost to the sport in the Asian zone.

Currently the Asian teams are merged in with the Pacific region for things like World Championship and Olympic Qualifying, as well as zone championships but this move could be the beginning of an independent Asian Zone.

The event is going to be hosted by Incheon from October 18-24 and the Wheelchair Rugby event will contain five teams from Asia.

South Korea will be at the tournament, with Japan joining as the well-established teams, while some new national sides of India, Malaysia and Thailand will complete the draw.

Japan will go in as heavy favorites, currently holding a world ranking of fifth they would be expected to claim the title, although they won’t be gaining any IWRF World Ranking points from the event.

The move is a significant coup for the Korean Wheelchair Rugby Association but the organization is not content with just this move.

Yun-ho Kim, the Secretary general of KWRA was key to making the sport gain acceptance with the Asian Para-Games committee and are looking to use this announcement as a launching point for Wheelchair Rugby in Asia, after Korea previously hosted a tournament, which allowed Asian teams to compete together for the first time, and provide a proof of concept.

Wheelchair Rugby has only come in to Asia since the turn of the century and as such development is still a significant goal for the Asian region, with India, Malaysia and Thailand only just getting started in the last 12 months.

Korea have been seeing their growth really take off since losing by almost 100 to Australia in the zone championships in 2007 but have grown to a significant side that is competitive on the international stage after a decade of growth.

Japan will be using the tournament as a chance for development, sending in some fringe players and youngsters as their main goal will be having a side to challenge for medals in the 2020 Paralympics.

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