Changes to the IWBF Classification Rules and Regulations for international wheelchair basketball are to be implemented by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) from 1st October 2021.
In January 2020, IPC’s Governing Board declared IWBF non-compliant with the 2015 IPC Athlete Classification Code, and set a deadline for compliance to be met by no later than 31 August 2021 for the sport to remain as part of the Paralympic movement and be reinstated to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games sport programme.
Since then, IWBF have worked tirelessly to implement an agreed action plan to become compliant with the support of its nations and the IPC. The action plan included a comprehensive review of IWBF’s Classification Rules and verification of eligible impairments for all internationally classified wheelchair basketball players.
The updated Classification Rules and Classification Manual have been approved by the IWBF Executive Council following the review of the classification system in the action plan.
IWBF President Ulf Mehrens, said:
“The decision was taken by the IWBF Executive Council that we would do whatever was necessary to become code-compliant and remain part of the Paralympic Movement after clear directive from our membership. Throughout this process we have learnt several valuable lessons that will enable our sport to flourish within the Paralympic movement for generations to come.
“The IWBF Classification Commission have undergone extensive work to update the rules and regulations to ensure they are aligned with the IPC’s Code and can be implemented effectively. On behalf of the whole of IWBF I would like to thank all those external stakeholders whose support has made it possible, especially the IPC for their cooperation, guidance, and support to get us to this point.”
IWBF Secretary General Norbert Kucera, said:
“Classification is the cornerstone to all para-sport and for wheelchair basketball it is no different. It is the responsibility of IWBF to make sure that the high standards of classification for the sport of wheelchair basketball have a fair and transparent Classification system that meets the IPC Athlete Classification Code and International Standards.
“The review of the Classification Rules is not only to make sure we align with the Code and become compliant, but it also strengthens our Classification System by introducing further robust regulations, research, and new effective processes so that we maintain the integrity of classification in the sport.”
As part of the revision of the Classification Rules, an updated Classification Manual has been produced which includes a new Minimum Impairment Criteria (MIC).
Every sport’s Classification Rules has a set of MIC which describe how severe an Eligible Impairment must be for an athlete to be considered eligible to compete in their chosen sport. The new MIC for wheelchair basketball has been established following a research project, carried out by the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport at Loughborough University who are world-renowned for their work in Paralympic sport and classification, where experts from the international wheelchair basketball, para-sport, and sporting communities came to a consensus on the MIC’s based on scientific evidence aligned to our general standard.
Chair of the IWBF Classification Commission Regina Costa, said:
“We have been working diligently over the past two years to carry out a thorough process revising our classification rules and making any changes necessary whilst understanding how to ensure our rules are compliant to the IPC Code. We have also ensured we have built a new international certification and training system for Classifiers across the world to assist and support them with these changes and their ongoing professional development.”
Ahead of the new Classification Rules coming into effect on the 1st October 2021, IWBF will roll out engagement workshops with member nations, new online training, and re-training seminars for Classifiers, as well as information and briefing packs for players, teams, officials, and member organisations with a summary of the changes.
The IPC Governing Board will meet at the end of August where it will be considered whether IWBF have met compliance with the IPC Classification Code and be reinstated to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games sport programme.