Last November, the Plenary Assembly of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) approved the IFSC Strategic Plan 2020-2028, presenting its vision, mission and key objectives.

In the Strategic Plan, when presenting future developments, the IFSC included the following item:

“Professionalise Paraclimbing to meet IPC standards and aim at its inclusion in future Paralympic Games edition, starting from Los Angeles 2028.”

The objective was accompanied by a list of four sub-items:

  • Improve the classification process to meet the international standard set by the International Paralympic Committee, by adopting classification rules and by putting in place a training, evaluation and classification system for IFSC Classifiers;
  • Rethink the Categories in terms of numbers and merging scheme;
  • Create a Paraclimbing route setters pool of experts and support the group with training opportunities and Para route setting Guidelines; and
  • Encourage NFs in organising events at National and International level to increase the number of athletes and grow the Paraclimbing community.

The application deadline for the Paralympic Games Los Angeles 2028 is set in the fourth quarter of 2021, meaning that the required adjustments will have to be introduced, implemented and optimised during the 2021 season.

The biggest gap between IPC standards and current IFSC Paraclimbing Rules is the classification: the Paraclimbing Committee is currently finalising a reviewed version of the IFSC Classification Rules and will introduce them at two seminars, to be held at the IFSC Paraclimbing World Cup competitions in Innsbruck (AUT) and in the United States of America.

The latest version of the IPC Classification Model Rules for Para Sports is available here.

By allowing nine out of the 10 impairment categories, the IFSC matches the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) as the only para sport to include nine categories. Only Athletics and Swimming allow 10.

Sebastian Depke, Chair of the IFSC Paraclimbing Committee, said:

"The upcoming changes are fundamental. Having our main goal in mind, we can be happy to take this step now and I am thankful for the support we get from the IFSC. I am sorry for those who will experience disadvantages and I encourage them not to let their love and dedication to the sport die down. Climbing is way more than just competition climbing on artificial walls and there are also other goals aside medals or rankings. In my eyes all Paraathletes can label themselves as winners: they have gone through incredible situations such as war, terror, accidents or diseases and they are still here and doing what they love."

Jessica Sporte, Athlete Representative in the IFSC Paraclimbing Committee, said:

"Changes to the Paraclimbing classification rules are part of the constant process of evaluation and necessary as we push for Paraclimbing’s inclusion in the Paralympics Games. I understand the disappointment athletes may face due to these changes, and I encourage you to not let your passion for the sport die as these changes are implemented. I am thankful for the IFSC’s dedication to the growth and professionalism of Paraclimbing internationally and am excited for what the future of Paraclimbing holds."

For more information about Paraclimbing classification please visit the dedicated section on the IFSC website.

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Photo: Sytse Van Slooten/IFSC


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