Reigning Paralympic wheelchair rugby champions Australia will face France, Denmark and hosts Japan in Pool A of this year’s tournament at Tokyo 2020.

Three-time Paralympic champions USA were drawn into Pool B, meanwhile, and will compete with Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand for a place in the semi-finals in August.

Australia, who currently sit top of the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) World Rankings, have not lost a Paralympic match since a 53-44 defeat to the USA in the final of Beijing 2008.

However, if they are to secure a third successive Paralympic gold medal then the team must overcome Rio 2016 bronze medallists Japan, whose coach Kevin Orr opted to place his side in Pool A during the official draw in Sheffield.

As the host nation of the 16th Summer Paralympic Games, Japan were given the choice of which group they wanted to compete in at Tokyo 2020.

Having watched Australia, France and European Championship 2019 runners-up Denmark get drawn into Pool A, Orr chose to place his side alongside the reigning champions.

Orr’s decision, which meant European champions Great Britain were placed into Pool B, set up a replay of the Rio 2016 wheelchair rugby semi-final against Australia.

Japan lost that match 63-57 at the Carioca Arena in Rio, but went on to beat Canada 52-50 in the bronze final and gained some revenge on Australia during the World Wheelchair Rugby Championship 2018 final, as they beat the hosts 62-61 in Sydney.

Wheelchair rugby made its Paralympic debut at Atlanta 1996 as the USA won the sport’s first gold medal, beating Canada 37-30 in the final.

The USA won gold again in Sydney four years later, before New Zealand — who at 10th in the IWRF World Rankings are the lowest ranked team to qualify for Tokyo 2020 — claimed their sole Paralympic title at Athens 2004.

In China four years later, the USA returned to the top step of the podium as they beat Australia 53-44 at the Beijing Science and Technology University Stadium.

Beaten finalists Australia have since dominated wheelchair rugby, winning back-to-back Paralympic titles in London and Rio.

Should Brad Dubberley’s side make it a hat-trick of gold medals in Tokyo then they will draw level with the USA as the most successful nation in the sport’s Paralympic history.

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