The Paralympics involves 22 sports but not all disability categories are allowed to compete in each event. Each sport has different physical demands and therefore has its own set of classifications. 

Select a sport to find out more about its classification and eligible impairments.

You can also read about the ten eligible impairments below.

Ten eligible impairments

The Paralympic Movement offers sport opportunities for athletes with physical, visual and/or intellectual impairments that have at least one of the following 10 eligible impairments:

  • Impaired muscle power

Explanation: Reduced force generated by muscles or muscle groups, may occur in one limb or the lower half of the body, as caused, for example, by spinal cord injuries, Spina Bifida or Poliomyelitis. 

  • Impaired passive range of movement

Explanation: Range of movement in one or more joints is reduced permanently. Joints that can move beyond the average range of motion, joint instability, and acute conditions, such as arthritis, are not considered eligible impairments. 

  • Limb deficiency

Explanation: Total or partial absence of bones or joints, from birth or as a consequence of trauma (e.g. car accident or amputation) or illness (e.g. bone cancer). 

  • Leg length difference

Explanation: Bone shortening in one leg from birth or trauma. 

  • Short stature

Explanation: Reduced standing height due to abnormal dimensions of bones of upper and lower limbs or trunk, for example due to achondroplasia or growth hormone dysfunction. 

  • Hypertonia

Explanation: Abnormal increase in muscle tension and a reduced ability of a muscle to stretch, which can result from injury, illness or a health condition such as cerebral palsy. 

  • Ataxia 

Explanation: Lack of co-ordination of muscle movements due to a neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy, brain injury or multiple sclerosis. 

  • Athetosis 

Explanation: Generally characterised by unbalanced, uncontrolled movements and a difficulty in maintaining a symmetrical posture, due to cerebral palsy, brain injury, multiple sclerosis or other conditions. 

  • Visual impairment

Explanation: Vision is impacted by either an impairment of the eye structure, optical nerve/ pathways or the part of the brain controlling vision (visual cortex). Read more about visual impairments.

  • Intellectual impairment

Explanation: A limitation in intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviour as expressed in conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills, which originates before the age of 18.

Visual impairment

The following is the general structure used for the classification of athletes with a visual impairment. 


These athletes have a very low visual acuity and/or no light perception. 


Athletes with a B2 sport class have a higher visual acuity than athletes competing in the B1 sport class and/or a visual field of less than five degrees radius. 


Athletes with a B3 (or equivalent) sport class have the least severe visual impairment eligible for Paralympic sport. They have the highest visual acuity and/or a visual field of less than 20 degrees radius. 

Although these are the standardised sport classes for athletes with a visual impairment the names they are given will differ by sport.

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