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30 Aug 2012

The wheelchair basketball tournaments get underway

The Basketball Arena and the North Greenwich Arena host one of the most popular Paralympic sports

When the Second World War American veterans started playing wheelchair basketball as part of their rehabilitation, nobody would have imagined that, in a short period of time, the sport would have gained so much popularity worldwide. Wheelchair basketball, which is now practiced in over 80 countries, became part of the Paralympic program as from the 1960 Rome Games (the women's tournament made its debut in Tel Aviv 1968). The rules are very similar to those applied to traditional basketball, with players being required to pass the ball or dribble every two pushes of the wheelchair. To guarantee a certain degree of balance in the court, each player is assigned a value ranging from 1.0 to 4.5 depending on the severity of their disability; the sum of the values of the five players in the court must never exceed 14. London 2012 will have a line-up of 12 men's teams and 10 women's teams, divided into two preliminary groups; the teams in the top four places of each group will qualify for the knock-out quarter final rounds. The nations who are looking to be the favorites for winning the title are those who dominated the scene over the last few years, both in the men's and women's teams: Australia, Canada, USA and Great Britain.