Today at #ParaEducation, we are going to talk about one of the most interesting technical topics of the Paralympic movement: The Sports Classification system.

In simple words, the Sport Classification is: “medical-technical evaluation of all Para athletes, in order to obtain a sport class. And the main objective is to guarantee a fair competition”. 

The first concept that must be taken into consideration is eligibility. In Parapan American sports, all those Para athletes who have some type of physical, visual or intellectual impairment are eligible to represent their country and compete.

Once evaluated and if the Para athlete has one of the ten different impairments described in the Sport Classification Code of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), then he/she meets the so-called "Minimum Criterion Disability” (MIC). 

The 10 eligible impairments in Paralympic sport are:

  • Hypertonia
  • Athetosis
  • Ataxia
  • Impaired muscle power
  • Impaired passive range of movement
  • Loss of limb or limb deficiency
  • Leg-length difference
  • Short stature
  • Intellectual Impairment
  • Visual impairment

The Code states that: “The classification determines who is eligible to compete in a Para sport, and also groups Para-athletes into sport classes according to their activity limitation in a given sport.”
As explained in the Paralympic Sport Classification guide of the Spanish Paralympic Committee: "if an athlete does not meet said criteria, they would not be eligible for a specific Parapan American sport, considering that there is no evident limitation in the activities required for their practice.". 

Once the Para athlete is evaluated by experts in each sport, they are assigned a Sports class that is made up of a Letter+Number. For example, for people with Visual Impairments you find:

B1= The letter B is for Blind, and the number represents the level of impairment. The smaller the number, the greater the degree of impairment.  

This Sports Classification allows people to understand why in an athletics event participants can compete with different types of prostheses, wheelchairs, stature, among others. The same goes for the rest of the sports.

Although they all have different types of impairments, they all meet the Minimum Impairment Criterion (MIC) that will guarantee fair competition between them. 

#DoYouKnow Some sports are designed for only one type of impairment, such as Goalball, which is played only by athletes with Visual Impairment. 

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