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Judoka: have your say on new classification system

Date: January 14, 2021

Category: Judo

The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) is inviting athletes to take part in an online session to feedback on and shape the new classification system for judo.

In September 2020 IBSA revealed an ambitious plan to engage with athletes, coaches, members, federations, officials and classifiers in response to the results from a four-year research project about classification in IBSA Judo.

The session for athletes – held on Zoom – will take place on 12 February at 5pm CET. Members of the research team and a group of classifiers, coaches and athletes who will be writing the new classification rules will be on hand to explain and discuss the potential changes.

Athletes can register to take part here

The creation of a new system is in response to the International Paralympic Committee’s 2015 Athlete Classification Code. This details how classification must be evidence-based and sport-specific in order to stay on the Paralympic programme. Like other Para sports the current system in IBSA Judo was developed in response to a variety of factors over time as it grew into a global sport.

A research project for IBSA Judo therefore began in 2016. Scientists from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam attended competitions, carried out a variety of experiments, analysed large amounts of data and spoke to hundreds of experienced coaches, athletes, classifiers and officials. The university is also the IPC’s Classification Research Centre for visual impairments.

IBSA Vice-President Robert Fenton, himself a former athlete who is leading the development of the new system, said:

We would really encourage judoka to get involved with this important project. They are the people at the centre of everything IBSA does and their voices must be heard.

The research means changes for the sport which will impact current and future athletes and we want to hear from them directly on what those might be – positive or negative. Let us get together to have a discussion and answer questions, so we can create the best possible system.

Following on from the publication of their first findings in 2019, the scientists published a series of final recommendations in the spring of 2020. IBSA is reviewing these in consultation with coaches, athletes, classifiers and officials and aims to introduce new classification rules in time for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, but not before Tokyo 2020.

The recommendations centre around the creation of two classes – one for athletes who are partially sighted and one for athletes who are blind. Currently in IBSA Judo athletes with different levels of impairment – B1, B2 and B3 –compete against each other. The minimum impairment criteria will also be raised according to the research outcomes.

A consultation document which summarises and contains the full research outcomes is available to download below.

Download: General IBSA Judo Classification Research Consultation Document

More information about how IBSA is responding to the research, including through its biggest ever community consultation, can be found here.

The Zoom for athletes follows sessions for coaches, team leaders, classifiers and IBSA members. An update on these can be viewed here.

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