Wheelchair racers compete at Kobe 2024 Para Athletics World Championships. GETTY IMAGES

Members of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) voted 98 percent in favour of a new classification code which "aims to ensure standardisation and harmonisation within the Paralympic Movement".

The 2025 IPC Classification Code was approved at Friday's IPC Extraordinary General Assembly which was held online. The new code promises better classification for athletes and a continued growth in the confidence and integrity of classification and Para sport competition.

At the online EGA, 81 of the 83 IPC member organisations (98 percent) voted to approve the IPC Classification Code. The move concluded a three-year exercise which saw over 80 percent of the IPC’s membership, as well as the athlete community, share their views on classification.

According to the IPC, the new code builds on the 2007 and 2015 editions and provides the highest standards for classification systems, policies, and procedures. This is done in parallel with balancing out the standardisation aspect with flexibility to allow Para sports to cater for their specific needs and capacities, thereby enabling growth and development.

Among some of the changes are revised stages of the classification process, including:

  • the verification of an underlying health condition
  • eligible impairment assessment
  • minimum impairment criteria assessment
  • sport class assessment
  • updated and strengthened provisions across all aspects of the classification process.  

In addition, a new International Standard has been produced which focuses on regulating the policies about detecting, investigating, and proceeding with cases of Intentional Misrepresentation. 

The code will take effect from January 2025 for all IPC Members, except for International Federations governing sports on the Paralympic Winter Games sport programme for whom the code is envisaged to be adopted from July 2026. The current 2015 IPC Athlete Classification Code remains in force for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games and the Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games.

The review of the 2015 code was initiated in January 2021 by the IPC Governing Board. A Code Review Team chaired by two-time Paralympian Scott Field was established to lead the process.

IPC President Andrew Parsons said, "The new IPC 2025 Classification Code delivers on a promise I made to the 2019 IPC General Assembly that improving classification would be my top priority. This version of the Code delivers the highest standards of classification ever seen and will strengthen the Paralympic Movement.

"On behalf of the IPC Governing Board I would like to express our gratitude to Scott Field, the 28 experts in the Code Drafting Team, and the IPC management team for diligently addressing every aspect of classification across the three years of the review process.

"The entire Movement had an opportunity to engage and contribute to the Code. I was particularly pleased to see the levels of support and engagement from the IPC Athletes’ Council and wider athlete community. This Code will support their needs and development for many years to come."

Jitske Visser, chairperson of the IPC Athletes’ Council, added, "The IPC Classification Code has a significant impact on the development and careers of all Para athletes, so it was important that our community fully engaged in the Code Review process. I was pleased with the engagement from active and retired athletes in providing feedback at all three stages of the review.

"On behalf of the IPC Athletes’ Council I want to say big thank you to everyone who participated, and also to the IPC Classification Code Review Team for making the athlete community an integral part of this process and for all their hard work in delivering the new IPC Classification Code."