In para judo, blind and partially sighted athletes compete in one class. It is questionable whether they can do so in a fair manner. Our investigation of the relationship between direct measures of visual function and the results of international competitions indicates that to minimise the impact of impairment, para judo competitions should be split into two classes.

This study aimed to establish the optimal cut-off point(s) between classes in a new, evidence-based classification system for VI judo. We collected results from international VI judo competitions held between 2012 and 2018. Data on visual acuity (VA) and visual field (VF) measured during classification were obtained. Performance was determined by calculating a win ratio for each athlete. VA was significantly associated with judo performance, VF was not. Decision tree analysis suggested to split the data into two groups with a VA cut-off of 2.5 logMAR units. Stability assessment using bootstrap sampling suggested a split into two groups, but showed considerable variability in the cut-off point between 2.0 and 3.5 logMAR. We conclude that to minimise the impact of impairment on the outcome of competition, VI judo should be split into two sport classes to separate partially sighted from functionally blind athletes.

Krabben, K., Mashkovskiy, E., Ravensbergen, R.H.J.C., & Mann, D.L. (2020): May the best-sighted win? The relationship between visual function and performance in Para judo. Journal of Sports Sciences. [full text]