Italian Paralympians are now eligible for the country's police sporting wing, the Yellow Flames ©Getty Images

Italian Paralympic athletes are permitted to become members of the country's state and military sports clubs for the first time in what is being labelled an "epochal turning point" for athletes with impairments.

Membership of state and military sports clubs enables athletes to receive a salary and a rank in the Italian Armed Forces or another public institution such as the police or fire brigade, typically while also being able to train for their sporting career.

"With great emotion and satisfaction, I learned the news of the publication by the Guardia di Finanza of the announcement that will allow several Paralympic athletes to become part of the Gruppi Sportivi Fiamme Gialle," Italian Paralympic Committee (CIP) President Luca Pancalli said.

The Gruppi Sportivi Fiamme Gialle, or Yellow Flames, is the sporting wing of the Italian police force.

Members include three of the men's 4x100 metres relay team who won the gold medal at Tokyo 2020 - Filippo Tortu, Fausto Desalu and Lorenzo Patta - and Pyeongchang 2018 downhill champion Sofia Goggia.

"It is the first step in a path that will immediately allow Paralympic athletes to enter the military sports groups and the state corps," Pancalli continued.

"This is an epochal turning point for Italian Paralympic sport and for our society, made possible thanks to the reform approved in 2021.

"An achievement that represents an important leap forward from a social and cultural point of view and which places our country at the top of the avant-garde in the world on the civil rights front."

Luca Pancalli says the development will benefit society as a whole ©Getty Images
Luca Pancalli says the development will benefit society as a whole ©Getty Images

The acceptance of Paralympic athletes to service sports groups has been one of the main objectives of CIP for more than 20 years.

"It will not only benefit many girls and boys with disabilities in our country, who will be able to invest in their dreams and passion for sport, but also the whole society that in this way invests in principles of inclusion and equal opportunities," Pancalli added.

Para athletes are poised to join state sports clubs beyond the Yellow Flames in the coming months, according to the CIP.

There are currently 10 state sporting groups in Italy which represent the army, navy, air force, police, penitentiary police, firefighters, Ministry of Defence and the International Military Sports Council as well as the Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza, which are militarised police forces.