Four sight classification opportunities are set to be available ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics ©Getty Images

The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) has confirmed classification panels will take place at four venues in three continents to ensure all visually impaired athletes are classified ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

With many competitions cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage of classification opportunities for athletes.

The IBSA has now arranged out-of-competition classification panels with the first scheduled to take place in Brisbane in Australia on March 31 and April 1.

São Paulo in Brazil is due to hold the second with sessions expected to run from May 15 to 17.

Finnish city Lahti is set to provide a classification opportunity on June 4 during the IBSA Goalball European Championships B.

The final panel is planned to take place on June 15 in Walsall in England ahead of the IBSA Judo Grand Prix.

The IBSA said the panels will be mainly available for athletes who have already qualified or are in connection to participate at this year's Paralympic Games.

"More out-of-competition panels may be added to this schedule in co-operation with the International Paralympic Committee as demand dictates and opportunities arise," a statement from the IBSA read.

Lahti in Finland is among four venues for the IBSA's sight classification panels ©Getty Images
Lahti in Finland is among four venues for the IBSA's sight classification panels ©Getty Images

"All IBSA members will be advised as soon as additional dates and venues are confirmed.

"The availability of these additional classification opportunities may appear at short notice due to the fact we may find that places are available at other IPC or IBSA competitions whose classification schedule is not full.

"As a result, IBSA urges all members to make sure that all their athletes' medical paperwork is in order and that they are all licensed for 2021."

The IBSA said countries were responsible for making their own travel and accommodation arrangements in co-operation with the organisers. 

Last month the IPC said the wait for classification was "impacting" 10 of the 22 Paralympic sports, although the organisation refused to specify what they were.

According to Japanese agency Kyodo News, more than 30 athletes that have either qualified to represent Japan at Tokyo 2020 or are still looking to book their place to represent the host nation at the Games have yet to be classified.

"Due to COVID-19 and multiple cancelled competitions in 2020, there are a number of athletes that still need to be classified ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games," an IPC spokesman told insidethegames.

"This is impacting athletes across 10 of the 22 sports for Tokyo 2020.  

"The IPC is working closely with the relevant International Federations on various scenarios to ensure athletes can be classified ahead of the Games.2

Classification determines which athletes are eligible to compete and how they are grouped together to ensure the credibility of competition.