After the final qualifiers were cancelled in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, World Para Volley has announced that their final sitting volleyball men's qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will take place in Duisburg, Germany from 15 to 19 February 2021.
It will be staged by World Para Volley in cooperation with the National Paralympic Committee of Germany.
“We are not only looking forward to organising the qualification tournament in the province of North Rhine-Westphalia, a place big in sitting volleyball, we also see a great sporting opportunity,” said NPC Germany president Friedhelm Julius Beucher to Worldparavolley.org.
“Our great appreciation must be expressed to NPC Germany for agreeing to host this important event in what is and will be, difficult circumstances,” said World ParaVolley President Barry Couzner OAM.
Incidentally, the home team Germany could also be one of the eligible teams to take part, as it was one of the teams that were due to participate in the postponed qualifiers in Edmond, Oklahama USA alongside the United States, Canada, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Ukraine.
Germany won bronze at the 2019 European Sitting Volleyball Championships after the Russian Federation defeated them in the semi-finals. But a bronze medal wasn't enough to secure qualification for the Paralympic Games.
Now, Germany will have another shot.
"Our team has the clear goal of getting the last place for the Paralympics in Tokyo on home soil and thus to make the dream of participating in the Games come true. In preparation we will do everything to ensure the best conditions and to be a good host - especially in these difficult times," Beucher told volleyballer.de.
The team also restarted their training in September in preparation for Tokyo 2020 as seen in the team's Facebook page.
Germany won a bronze medal at London 2012 but finished sixth at Rio 2016.
Who's qualified for Tokyo 2020?
Already qualified for Tokyo 2020 are host nation Japan, Islamic Republic of Iran and Bosnia Herzegovina, People's Republic of China, Russian Federation, Brazil and Egypt.
Next year's Games will see a showdown between rivals Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has won six Paralympic men’s titles since sitting volleyball made its debut at the Arnhem Games in 1980, while alternating between rival Bosnia and Herzegovina for gold and silver in the past five Paralympic Games.
Iran's Morteza Mehrzadselakjani - the tallest man at the last Paralympic Games targets more success in Tokyo 2020. The 2.46m tall Paralympian - who is also Iran's tallest man - wants to target succes in 2020. He hopes to become "“a two-time Paralympic champion at Tokyo 2020. It sounds so much better than one-time winner!,” he told World Para volley back in 2018 after their World Championship win.
Meanwhile, in the women's event - host nation Japan, Russian Federation, USA, People's Republic of China, Italy, Brazil and Rwanda have all earned their place at the Games with Canada getting the last spot in February 2020 on home soil by beating Ukraine.
The United States won the gold in Rio 2016 followed by People's Republic of China (silver) and Brazil (bronze).