To compete in Paralympic sports, all athletes must undergo classification to determine whether they are eligible to compete and to allocate eligible athletes to different sport classes. Judo is one of the most popular Paralympic sports for athletes with vision impairment (VI), with partially sighted and blind judokas competing against each other within the same class. Like other Paralympic sports, VI judo needs to develop an evidence-based classification system based on the specific visual demands of the sport [1,2]. The aim of this research project is to evaluate the current classification system in VI judo and to put forward recommendations for an evidence-based system of classification.

Research question

What is the impact of vision impairment on judo performance?

Method and design

In an initial study within this research project, we demonstrated that blind judokas might be at an unfair disadvantage against sighted opponents fighting with some residual vision [3]. In the remainder of this project we will gather empirical data that allows us to more precisely describe the relationship between vision impairment and judo performance. Elite level VI judo athletes will be approached to participate in this study. A battery of visual function tests will be administered to assess different aspects of vision impairment. Test results will be compared to match performance in order to assess the impact on performance.


  1. Tweedy, S. M., & Vanlandewijck, Y. C. (2011). International Paralympic Committee position standdbackground and scientific principles of classification in Paralympic sport. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45(4), 259-269.
  2. Ravensbergen, H. J. C., Mann, D. L., & Kamper, S. J. (2016). Expert consensus statement to guide the evidence-based classification of paralympic athletes with vision impairment: A delphi study. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(7), 386-391.
  3. Krabben, K..J., Van der Kamp, J., & Mann, D.L. (2017). Fight without sight: The contribution of vision to judo performance. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Advanced online publication. doi:/10.1016/j.psychsport.2017.08.004.


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