International Paralympic to allow classification during summer games

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The International Paralympic Committee will allow 10 sports to undertake classification in Tokyo prior to the rearranged Paralympics.

The IPC has temporarily suspended its policy banning classification at the Games because of the number of athletes needing to be classified with limited opportunities to do so beforehand because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Classification determines which Para-athletes are eligible to compete in a sport, and groups them into classes based on their level of impairment.

In a statement, IPC president Andrew Parsons said it was aware of the “potential impact” on athletes but added the “pros outweigh the cons”.

“Ensuring that athletes are classified prior to competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games is crucial to safeguarding the integrity and credibility of the competition,” he said.

“Since the pandemic began, our classification department has worked tirelessly with the international federations to provide safe and secure classification. The reality is that for many sports classification and competition opportunities remain limited, while for others the disruption caused by the pandemic has had a significant impact on athletes’ ability to attend classification before the Games.

“This decision to provide classification opportunities at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has not been taken lightly by the IPC, bearing in mind the potential impact on athletes who may change class or be found non-eligible at such a late stage.

“However, the pros outweigh the cons in this matter, and we believe this decision will be welcomed by the athlete community, national Paralympic committees and international federations, relieving some of the pressure they face.”

The 10 sports for which the IPC is now planning classification in Tokyo are athletics, boccia, canoe, cycling (track and road), judo, rowing, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.

The other 12 sports on the Tokyo programme have been deemed to have sufficient classification opportunities in place for any athletes requiring it.

The Paralympics are scheduled to take place from 24 August to 5 September.