Classification of Disabled Athletes: (Dis)Empowering the Paralympic Practice Community

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Loughborough University
  • 2 University of Wales Institute
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In recent years the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the institution responsible for the administration, organization, and management of the Paralympic Games, has reshaped the landscape of sport for the disabled. This article argues that the IPC has marginalized the practice community, notably the International Organizations of Sport for the Disabled. By wrestling away control of the classification systems developed by these organizations, the IPC has transformed them to such an extent that they fail to provide opportunities for equitable sporting practice and the result has been a threat to the ideology of Paralympism. We illustrate this by examining two classification systems that are currently used within Paralympic Sport: the integrated functional system employed in the sport of swimming and the disability-specific system used within athletics.

Howe is with the School of Sport and Exercise Science, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK. Jones is with the School of Sport, PE and Recreation, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, UK.

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