“Recently in the news there has been a lot of coverage about the classification system within the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for what I will call an act of discrimination. It first happened towards the beginning of 2020, when Paralympic athletes were denied classification in wheelchair tennis, but the most recent display of this has come through Wheelchair Basketball.
Athletes with Hidden Disabilities (disabilities that are not obvious to the eye) are basically being told that their disability makes them ineligible to play in disability sport. They can’t play ‘normal’ sport as many people would call it, but they’re now not allowed to play disabled sport? So what sport can they play? I have a C6/C7 spinal cord injury (broken neck), but if you see me up on my feet you would never be able to tell, as demonstrated in the image shown.
There has been huge support throughout the world of Paralympic sport to those athletes that have been affected by the actions of IPC, which will have such a negative effect of so many people. But what is that message sending out to younger children with disabilities who have ambitions to participate within the Paralympics? Would you want to be associated with an organisation that have limits to how disabled you are required to be to play disability sport?
In my opinion there is a long way to go to make the whole Paralympic classification system fair. It has very touching and sad to think some athletes have considered amputation to make them eligible to play their sport. Although many people may have the same condition or disability, it does not make them all the same. The whole discussion of this classification topic could go on and on as there so many areas to cover and consider. It will never be perfect, but it could be better.
If you would like to find out more information and hear about more experiences regarding the classification of disabled athletes, I recommend visiting the BBC Sport website.”
Follow Josh on Instagram @joshlandmann.