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New IBSA Judo Classification Rules published

Date: January 5, 2022

Category: Judo

The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) has published new Classification Rules for IBSA Judo, which came into effect on 1 January 2022.

The publication of the rules in December follows a five-year research and consultation process which has involved hundreds of athletes, classifiers, coaches, referees and officials.

The new IBSA Judo Classification Rules can be downloaded here.

Starting in 2016, IBSA embarked on an ambitious project to create an evidence-based and sport specific classification system for judo. Concluding in 2020 with the publication of a series of final recommendations, the research was led by Kai Krabben of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Krabben and his team travelled to observe competitions, carried out surveys of coaches and classification experts, conducted tests and analysed large amounts of data.

The recommendations centred around the creation of two classes for judo – one for athletes who are partially sighted and one for those who are blind. They also suggested that the sport’s minimum impairment criteria should be raised.

IBSA then took these findings and established the IBSA Judo Classification Research Implementation Committee. Formed of Head Classifiers, athletes, coaches and referees, the group invited the judo community to a series of online sessions where the research were presented and discussed.

The process – which was the biggest ever consultation that IBSA has ever undertaken – concluded in October with a second series of online discussions covering the content of the new Classification Rules.

IBSA President, Sandro Di Girolamo, said: “We are happy to present the final Classification Rules to the members, coaches, athletes, researchers and classifiers and the whole judo community who have been involved with this significant project right from the start.

“I would like to thank them all, as well as the implementation committee, and ask for the community to continue to work with us as we make this evidence-based change for the benefit of the future of judo. It will create more opportunities for athletes with the most severe vision impairments to reach their potential on the mat, and make the sport more transparent for everyone overall.

“We do however appreciate that some current judoka may no longer be eligible once they are classified under the new rules. IBSA encourages our members and National Federations to continue to support those athletes into other sports or careers if they have not already anticipated the change. We will do everything we can to help with that, and will publish more materials shortly.

“Overall we believe that IBSA Judo has a bright and exciting future and will continue to work to help it grow around the world.”

The rules contain a full definition of the new classes – J2 for athletes who are partially sighted and J1 for those who are blind – as well as strengthened provisions for the submission of and requirements for classification data and classification appointments.

From Paris 2024 new medal events have been added to the Paralympic programme by the International Paralympic Committee in response to the new system. A total of 16 men’s and women’s golds – an increase of three – will now be up for grabs. These will be split into four weight categories each for J1 and J2 in each gender, and 10 additional athlete slots will be available for Paris 2024.

IBSA Members will see the status of many of their athletes has changed to ‘Review’ without any date in IBSA’s classification and entry management system, ISAS. Athletes with a current Review status up to 2022 will, as normal, require classification at their first sanctioned competition in 2022. All judo athletes will therefore have to undergo classification from 1 January 2022.

IBSA International Classifiers have received training in the new rules in preparation for classification at the Egyptian Pyramids International Judo Championships in Alexandria, Egypt, in March 2022.

More opportunities will be available throughout the year as IBSA aims to classify all judoka as soon as possible.

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