Paraclimbing Classification

In November 2020, the IFSC General Assembly approved a Strategic Plan for 2020-2028, presenting its vision, mission, and key objectives.

The Strategic Plan includesthe following item:

Professionalise Paraclimbing to meet IPC standards and aim at its inclusion in future Paralympic Games editions, starting from Los Angeles 2028.

The objective is accompanied by a list of four sub-items:

  • Improve the classification process to meet the international standard set by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), by adopting classification rules and by putting in place a training, evaluation, and classification system for IFSC classifiers

  • Rethink Paraclimbing categories in terms of numbers and merging scheme

  • Create a pool of expert Paraclimbing routesetters and support the group with training opportunities and guidelines

  • Encourage Member Federations to organise events at both national and international levels, to increase the number of athletes and grow the Paraclimbing community

The application deadline for the Paralympic Games Los Angeles 2028 is set in the fourth quarter of 2021, meaning that the required adjustments must be introduced, implemented, and optimised during the 2021 season.

The biggest gap between IPC standards and current IFSC Paraclimbing Rules is the classification. The Paraclimbing Committee is currently finalising a reviewed version of the IFSC Classification Rules, presented at two Paraclimbing world cups in 2021.

The latest version of the IPC Classification Model Rules for Para Sports is available here.


Whenclimbers apply for an IFSC Paraclimbing Athlete Licence, they must submit medical information in English, in a standardised form signed by a medical doctor.

The form will request athletes to categorise their impairment in one or multiple of the following nine categories:

  • Impaired muscle power

  • Impaired passive range of movement

  • Limb deficiency

  • Leg length difference

  • Short stature

  • Hypertonia

  • Ataxia

  • Athetosis

  • Vision impairment

Other types of impairment are not eligible for competition or will not be taken into account for classification.

The International Standards for Eligible Impairments can be found here.

IPC standards also define intellectual impairment as an eligible impairment, but it is up to the single Para sport itself to exclude single categories of impairment. By allowing nine out of the 10 maximum categories, the IFSC matches the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) as the only Para sports to include nine categories. Only Athletics and Swimming allow 10.


The IFSC will request full medical documentation to all athletes requesting an IFSC Licence. Such medical documentation will be reviewed by a panel of classifiers in order to assign each athlete a Sport Class.

Paraclimbing classification diagram 1

The Sport Class will have one of the following Sport Class Statuses attached:

  • N: New
  • R: Review
  • FRD: Fixed Review Date (with date included)
  • C: Confirmed

Every athlete requesting a licence in the 2021 season received a Sport Class Status New, as each athlete was required to go through the new classification process.

Additionally, two new Sport Classes were introduced:

  • CNC: Classification Not Completed

  • NE: Not Eligible

Details about the two new classes are available here.

Paraclimbing classification diagram 2

Paraclimbing competition registrations close six weeks before the first competition day. Once the deadline passes, the classification team will review all medical forms and check if additional information is required. In this case, the Athlete Licence will be pending the presentation of any additional documents. Such documents can only be presented through the IFSC Result System. Documents sent via email will not be considered.

By performing pre-checks on medical records, the classification team can approach the evaluation session more efficiently, also informing an athlete in advance if they are not eligible for the competition.

Athletes with a C or FRD Sport Class Status are permitted to not attend the evaluation session, which is mandatory for athletes with an N or R status.

Paraclimbing classification diagram 3

The session will include an athlete interview, and athletes with physical impairments must perform multiple tests before a Sport Class and Sport Class Status are assigned. Athletes with visual impairments will undergo an assessment with a licensed ophthalmologist to confirm the medical records they submitted in advance.

Paraclimbing classification diagram 4

In competition, the IFSC will add a tracking code to those athletes requiring observationby the classification panel. Qualification results will take some time to be elaborated, as judges and members of the classification panel will publish their results at the same time. Timing for appeals and protests will follow a new standard. More details can be found here.

IFSC Partners