The 26-year-old was told that his particular impairment doesn’t comply with the International Olympic Committee’s (IPC) classification code, which makes him unable to participate in next summer’s Games.
“I have been deemed to be the ‘wrong kind’ of disabled,” said Bates, who called the IPC’s regulations discriminative and unfair.
The athlete injured his leg at the age of 11 while playing football. He was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) – a disability which not only causes severe pain, but also makes him unable to walk.
He made his senior debut as a wheelchair player in 2017, winning European and world titles with the British squad. But his dream of adding an Olympic medal to his collection of awards might be ruined by the IPC’s impairment regulations.
In 2015, the IPC changed its impairment requirements, obliging the International Wheelchair Basketball Committee to reclassify its athletes and threatening to exclude wheelchair sports from the Summer Games if they don’t meet the criteria outlined.
In order to comply with the newly implemented rules, Barnes will need to have a lower limb amputation to receive the green light from the IPC.
“I had the chance to have it amputated when I was around 14, 15 – I chose not to. So it was a realistic option when I was younger. Looking back now, I wish I had it taken off,” Bates said.
“Due to the decision of the IPC, I may now be forced to revisit this heart-breaking option. It will be a big thing for me to consider,” he added.