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IBSA, World Abilitysport, Virtus, join operational forces

Date: March 20, 2024

Category: IBSA news

The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), World Abilitysport and Virtus have begun work on a new collaboration which will see the three organisations share resources and knowledge for the benefit of Para athletes and their stakeholders around the world.

The founding members of the Paralympic movement have been in operation for many decades. IBSA has helped develop sport for people with vision impairments whilst World Abilitysport – following a recent merge with the Cerebral Palsy International Sport and Recreation Association (CPISRA) – has taken care of sport for people with physical impairments and Virtus for people with intellectual impairments.

IBSA is the international federation for the Paralympic sports of goalball, blind football and judo as well as other non-Paralympic sports. World Abilitysport is the international federation for wheelchair fencing and powerchair hockey and has recently taken on the governance for World Para Dance Sport.

Each organisation also independently organise a regular calendar of Games and competitions and are responsible for advocating for their respective communities and Para athletes. They are recognised individually as International Organisations of Sport for the Disabled (IOSDs) by the International Paralympic Committee.

The new three-way partnership will see joint-working in common areas such as anti-doping, media and communications and broadcasting.

IBSA President, Ilgar Rahimov, said: “Throughout our history, IBSA has enjoyed a close working relationship with our fellow IOSDs, sharing ideas and collaborating on important issues.

“During my election campaign in 2023 I promised IBSA Members that we would transform the way IBSA works with both internal and external stakeholders. Along with World Abilitysport and Virtus, we realised that a lot of the work we do independently could be shared between us, to save resources, improve efficiency and remove duplication.

“I am delighted to begin this new journey as we explore together how we can deliver more – and better – for Members, sports and athletes.”

World Abilitysport President, Rudi Van Den Abbeele, said: “World Abilitysport has been through some very big changes in recent years, not least the merger with CPISRA. This meant we became the single, global organisation for developing sports for people with physical disabilities.

“This new exploratory exercise will allow us to establish how we can share resources between the IOSDs and what common themes there are amongst our constituents, with the aim of streamlining our operations so we can invest even more in our unique core work.”

Marc Truffaut, Virtus President, said “The IOSD’s have a huge role advocating for people with an impairment both within Paralympic and particularly non-Paralympic sports. We are delighted to renew our partnership with IBSA and World Abilitysport”.

About the IOSDs

IBSA was founded in 1981 following a huge increase in interest in sport for people with vision impairments and a need for a specific body to represent them.

In the years that followed, IBSA became responsible for goalball, judo and blind football.

IBSA stages a World Games every four years which showcase these sports as well as many others such as athletics and swimming.

The full history of IBSA can be viewed here:

World Abilitysport is the oldest of the three IOSDs. With its history dating back to the first International Stoke Mandeville Games in 1952, it is the only organisation that provides a full international competition at entry, development and qualifying levels for people with physical impairments.

Today, World Abilitysport hosts a series of Games where aspiring and established Para athletes can compete together in both Paralympic and non-Paralympic sports, and is the international federation for wheelchair fencing, powerchair hockey and Para dance sport.

More information about the history of World Abilitysport can be viewed here:

Virtus was founded (as INAS) in 1986 and is the International Sports Federation for athletes with an intellectual impairment. It organises an annual programme of World and Regional Championships in 13 sports, culminating in the four-yearly Global Games – the largest elite sports event in the world for people with an intellectual impairment.

More information about Virtus can be found here: 

IBSA, World Abilitysport, and Virtus – the latter two of which have rebranded in recent years – were all Members of the International Coordinating Committee of Sports for the Disabled in the World (ICC). In 1989 the ICC established the International Paralympic Committee with the responsibility for organising the Paralympic Games.

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