Roman Novikov hopes blind sambo competitions can be held in 2021 ©FIAS

Roman Novikov, a member of the International Sambo Federation (FIAS) Commission for Athletes with Disabilities, deems 2020 a productive year for blind sambo off the back of international rules being approved by the FIAS.

Two documents, International Sambo Rules for the Blind and Visually Impaired and International Sambo Classification Rules for the Blind and Visually Impaired, were examined by the FIAS Technical Commission in October 2020 and later approved by the Executive Committee.

"I consider it a great achievement to have the necessary regulatory framework for holding official international SAMBO competitions among the blind and visually impaired," Novikov said

"As soon as the epidemiological situation stabilises, the long-awaited event for all blind and visually impaired sambists will become a reality - the first World Championships could be held.

"In addition, our team carried out a large and unique work, as a result of which a collection of materials was compiled containing recommendations for coaches planning to start training with blind and visually impaired sambists. 

"Also, in cooperation with the Rey-sport company, in accordance with the wishes of the athletes, specialised helmets for blind sambists who will compete in the SVI-1 class were finalised."

Novikov also saw benefits in the coronavirus pandemic forcing many coaching seminars online as that meant video footage could be reviewed repeatedly, while there were no time limits when speaking online about important issues.

Novikov did agree that there were many disappointing outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the cancellation of an international "Overcoming" tournament.

Sambists from 10 countries - Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine - had applied to take part in the competition.

There is now a focus on hosting the first blind sambo tournament of 2021 as part of a major international sambo event.

Blind sambo development began in 2010 and the first domestic tournament in the discipline was held in December 2011 in Moscow in Russia.

In 2015, the Russian Ministry of Sports officially recognised the discipline, and the Russian Sambo Championships for blind and visually impaired athletes have been held annually since 2017.

At the 2019 FIAS Congress, Novikov made a presentation about blind sambo and later that year a demonstration group of blind and visually impaired athletes put on a showcase at the World Sambo Championships in Cheongju in South Korea.