“It will serve as the Paralympic Movement’s model for classification under the IPC Classification Code and on the development of new measurement methods for classification. The IPC Classification Code directs classification to be sport-specific and based on accurate research findings.”
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Thursday (19 September) officially signed the contract at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia for the second of three leading IPC Classification Research and Development Centres.
Three centres are being opened around the world to spearhead the co-ordination of the classification research agenda in the Paralympic Movement, with each centre being dedicated to one particular impairment type - physical, visual and intellectual.
The classification centres are being supported by some of the funds from the renewed IPC-IOC Co-operation Agreement, which was signed in 2012, allowing for each centre to contract a post-doctoral researcher to assist with leading the project.
The University of Queensland in Brisbane is the second signatory of such a contract with the IPC.
In July, a similar agreement was signed with the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam, which will lead a comparable project for the development of sport-specific classification for athletes with a visual impairment. Negotiations for a third centre to focus on athletes with intellectual impairment remain ongoing.
Dr. Peter Vvan de Vliet, IPC Medical and Scientific Director, said: "The centre in Australia will be a hub for classification research for persons with a physical impairment, serving as a place to exchange conceptual ideas, knowledge, experience and expertise.
"It will serve as the Paralympic Movement's model for classification under the IPC Classification Code and on the development of new measurement methods for classification. The IPC Classification Code directs classification to be sport-specific and based on accurate research findings."
Housed at the University of Queensland's School of Human Movement Studies, the centre will sit just seven kilometres from the heart of Brisbane City and will be led by IPC Classification Committee member Dr. Sean Tweedy.
Tweedy serves as a member on the IPC Classification Committee and has a long-standing record of classification research and its translation into practice through different positions he has held on the IPC Classification Committee, IPC Sports Science Committee and in IPC Athletics.
Tweedy said: "The IPC Classification Code was adopted by the IPC Governing Board in 2007 and provides policies and procedures for Paralympic classification that should be common to all sports and to the Paralympic Games.
"Evidence-based decision making is critical because it can reduce the number of classification controversies and increase the level of certainty about classification decisions. This keeps the focus of the media and fans exactly where it should be - on the sport."
The opening of the IPC Classification Research and Development Centres has been aligned with the IPC Classification Code Review process, which is encouraging all the Paralympic Movement's stakeholders to suggest reasonable amendments to the current Code.
The first round of review will run from 1 June - 30 September 2013, and the second round will run the same dates but in 2014.
Following each consultation round, the feedback will be reviewed by the IPC Classification Committee and the IPC Governing Board. Following the first consultative round, a first draft of the modified IPC Classification Code will be circulated to the membership for the second consultation round.
The modified Code will be presented by the IPC Governing Board as a motion at the 2015 IPC General Assembly, and the amendments will take effect within one year of approval.