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05 April 2021

The ITF has announced a further 12-week extension to the revised UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour Rankings system as the Tour continues to operate a reduced calendar of tournaments in the first half of 2021 due to the pandemic. The extended ranking system period will now run until 6 June 2021.

An extension of 12 weeks was approved by the Wheelchair Tennis Committee and ITF Board to maintain the effectiveness of the revised ranking system and protect the fairness and integrity of the rankings. This extension provides support to established players in the rankings while recognising more recent performances, and crucially ensures the ranking system remains as fair as possible for acceptance and qualification for the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The ITF have also today provided an update on a current review of the wheelchair tennis classification system as it enters a stakeholder consultation phase. This work aligns with the ITF’s commitment, as well as its obligation under the IPC Classification Code, to advance the sport with robust, fair, consistent and sport-specific rules which are in line with international standards as well as the latest research and evidence.

Classification in wheelchair tennis ensures competition is fair and meaningful, determining results on ability rather than level of impairment. Wheelchair tennis, one of the fastest growing wheelchair sports in the world, has operated under a classification system similar to that developed for other Para sports. As the sport continues to develop and professionalise, it becomes increasingly important that the criteria and evaluation processes are inclusive, sport-specific and evidence based, and remain compliant with the IPC Classification Code.

A working group of experts has been commissioned to conduct a review of the current Minimum Impairment Criteria for wheelchair tennis. Led by Professor Babette Pluim, the ITF’s lead Classification Research Consultant, the group has conducted an extensive review of existing research literature and shared its findings with a focus group of experts in sports science, sports medicine and sports ethics. These findings and any recommendations developed by the working group will now be presented to key stakeholder groups including players, coaches, national associations and classifiers who will have the opportunity to provide their feedback before any recommendations are finalised and presented to the ITF Wheelchair Committee and ITF Board.

This review marks an important step forward in delivering a sport-specific and inclusive system for the benefit and growth of wheelchair tennis, and follows measures announced in 2019 which began a progression from a system of self-declaration towards independent assessment in compliance with the IPC Classification Code.

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