Experts to Meet in Bonn to Consider New VI Classification System

29 Sep 2010 By IPC

Some of the world’s leading experts in ophthalmology and sports science will meet in Bonn this week to start the process that could see the introduction of sport specific classification systems for visually impaired athletes in Paralympic Sport.

Organized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA), the aim of the two day meeting is to review the methods, processes and policies currently in place before seeing how they can be improved to ensure they are fairer and more appropriate for visually impaired athletes.

It is hoped that eventually a new sport specific classification system can be introduced that replaces the current system that covers all sports.

Dr Peter Van de Vilet, the IPC’s Medical and Scientific Director, said: “This meeting is the first step on a road that will inevitably involve research and evidence gathering before a definitive model is tested and agreed by all parties.

“Our short term aim is to improve the current classification process to ensure is it more standardized, fairer and reliable for athletes.

“Long term however, we are aiming for a sport specific classification process that measures the level of impairment against the resulting effect on the sport or discipline.

“Under the current system for example a 100m sprinter has the same class profile as downhill skier if they have the same impairment. However, the overall effect on how they perform is clearly very different and that must change.

“That is why, in conjunction with IBSA, we have invited some of the world’s leading experts in ophthalmology and sports science to Bonn to look at how the whole classification process for visually impaired athletes can be improved.”

Amongst those attending the meeting at the IPC’s Headquarters in Bonn are Ian Bailey, Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of California; August Colenbrander from the International Council of Ophthalmology; Hassan Minto from the World Council of Optometry and David Mann, from the Australian Institute of Sport in Melbourne.