The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics started on August 24, 2021, after it was delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is being held with the threat of the deadly COVID-19 looming. As for the COVID protocols, the 2020 Paralympics will be following largely the same protocols.

The Paralympics involves 22 sports but not all disability categories can compete in each event. Here is the breakdown of each sport and its set of classifications.


Archery is broken up into two classes:

Open: This category includes athletes who have a leg impairment or balance impairment. For the former, they use a wheelchair, and for the latter they shoot standing or resting on a stool. Depending on the event, participants use either recurve or compound bows.

W1: This is for athletes who have impairment in all four limbs and use wheelchair.


All impairment groups can compete but a system of letters and numbers is used to distinguish each class.

F- Field athletes.

T- Athletes who compete on the track

And the number refers to their impairment.

11-13: This number denotes track and field athletes who are visually impaired. While class 11 requires mandatory blindfolds and run with a guide runner. In class 12, athletes running with a guide is optional.

20: This number denotes track and field athletes who are intellectually impaired. In this class, athletes have difficulties reaction time and memory recognition.

31-38: This class is for track and field athletes who have cerebral palsy or other neurological conditions. Classes 31-34 compete in seated position, 35-38 compete in stanging position.

40-41: This class has track and field athletes who have short stature (also known medically as dwarfism).

42-44: This denotes track and field athletes with lower limb impairments and don’t use prosthesis.

45-47: This denotes track and field athletes with upper limb impairments.

T51-54: This is for wheelchair track athletes. 51-52 is for athletes who have impairment in all four limbs. T53 denotes athletes who have functioning arms but have no torso movement. T54 is for athletes who have partial torso and lower limbs functions.

F51-57: This is for wheelchair field athletes. F51-54 denotes athletes who have limited shoulder, arm and hand functions (no torso or lower limb function). F54 denotes athletes who have normal function in their arms and hands. In the F55-57, the torso and leg function increases.

T61-64: Track and field athletes with lower limb impairments who use prosthesis.


Competitors are divided into six classes (two wheelchair classes and four standing classes).

WH1 and WH2 classes are for wheelchair users. However, WH1 denotes athletes who have more severe impairment than WH2 athletes.

Standing athletes (lower limb impairment) are classified into SL3 and SL4.

SU5 competitors are standing athletes with upper limb impairment.

SH6 competitors are short stature (dwarf) athletes.


Boccia or a bowling game is for athletes with cerebral palsy who compete from a wheelchair. Its classification is split into four classes.

BC1: Players with cerebral palsy who are able to use their hands or feet. They may have a help on court but refrain from using assistive devices.

BC2: This class is for players with cerebral palsy who are able to use their hands to roll the ball into play. They are more able than a BC1 athlete.

BC3: Athletes with cerebral palsy or other impairments in four limbs unable to roll or kick a ball into play. The athletes are supported by an assistant.

BC4: Athletes who do not have cerebral palsy but have impairment in all four limbs.


Athletes with physical impairments are eligible to take part. They are coupled into three sport classes per boat.

KL1: Athletes without or very less trunk function and no leg function.

KL2: Athletes with partial trunk and leg function and limited leg movement.

KL3: Athletes with trunk and partial leg function (with the use of at least one prosthetic).

VL1: Athletes with no dynamic torso function.

VL2: Athletes are scored based on their trunk function and leg function.

VL3: Athletes with full or almost-full dynamic torso function.


This discipline has athletes who have impaired muscle power, impaired range of movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis or visual impairment.

C1-5: Riders with condition like cerebral palsy or have a leg or arm amputation compete on bicycles. Class C1 is for athletes who have the most severe limitation. C5 is for athletes who meet the minimum impairment criteria. For example, an athlete with a double leg amputation would compete in the C3 class. An athlete with a single leg amputation will compete a class higher in C4.

B: Athletes with ivsual impairment participate on tandem bikes with a sighted guide.

H1-5: This is for handcyclists. In H1-4, riders compete in a reclined position. H5 is for athletes who sit on their knees and use their arms and upper body.

T1-2: This category is for athletes who are unable to ride a bicycle due to their intellectual impairment. They instead use a trike. In the T1, players have more serious coordination problems then T2 athletes.


All impairment groups can take part. There are five grades in this sport.

Grade I: Denotes severely disabled riders with impairments of all limbs and use a wheelchair in daily life.

Grade II: Denotes riders with reduced upper body control and minimal upper limb conditions and uses a wheelchair in daily life.

Grade III: Denotes riders with limited functionality in both lower limbs in trunk balance. Some may or may not use a wheelchair in daily life.

Grade IV: Ambulant riders who have impairments in both arms or have no arms, or moderate impairments of all four limbs. Blind riders and short stature riders are also included in this category.

Grade V: Ambulant athletes with vision impairment or lesser amount of motion or muscle strength. The athletes may have an impaired arm or leg function.

Five-a-side football

This is played by people who have a visual impairment. All players must play eyeshades except the goalie. No offside rules are attached to this sport.

In this, the football has ball bearings that produce noise when it moves.


Players are impaired visvually and a special rule means there is no need for classification.

The contenders wear blackout masks to ensure everyone, whether blind or visually impaired, competes equally.

The ball has bells inside to help the players. This game is played in total silence.


It is contested by visually impaired athletes only and has no categories. In this sport, athletes commence the bout “gripped up” (holding each other) rather than apart.

For athletes who are complete blind, a red circle is drawn on the sleeve of their Judogi. For fighters who are deaf have a small blue circle.


This is for all athletes with a disability. It is classified by weight alone. The competitors have disabilities in their lower limbs or hips.


This is divided into three classes:

PR1: Athletes with full movement in their arms and shoulders. However they have limited or no leg function.

PR2: This category denotes athletes who have good upper body and upper limb movement but reduced leg movement.

PR3: This is for athletes who have impariment but have movement in the legs, trunk and arms. This also has visually impaired rowers.


Shooters are divided into wheelchair and standing groups.

SH1: This is for pistol and rifle competitors who do not require a shooting stand.

SH2: This if for rifle participants who have an arm impairment and require a shooting stand.

Sitting volleyball

This sport is played by athletes who have physical impairment. Majority of players are amputees.

There are two classes:

MD- Minimally disable

D- Disabled

A team may only have one MD player on the court while the other five players have to be D.


It combines the conditions of limb loss, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and other disabilities across classes.

1-10: This denotes swimmers with a physical impairment. The severity of the impairment can be denoted by the number- the lower the number, the more severe the impairment.

11-13: This is for swimmers with a visual impairment. Participants must wear blackened goggles and use a tapper to ensure their safety approaching the wall. In 12-13, use of a tapper is optional.

14: Swimmers with an intellectual impairment.

S – Class for freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.

SB – Class for breaststroke

SM – Class for individual medley.

The prefix and numbers denotes the range of classifications:

S1, SB1, SM1 – Severe disability

S10, SB10, SM10 – Minimal disability

Para-table tennis

TT is played by competitors with a physical or intellectual disability. This is divided into 11 classes.

1-5: Athletes competing from a wheelchair. 1 denotes severely impaired, 5 denotes minimal impairment.

6-10: Ambulant athletes. Class 6 is severe, class 10 is minimal.

11: Athletes with an intellectual impairment.


Tokyo 2020 will only demonstrate K43 or K44 class and have three weight categories per gender.

K43- Bilateral amputation below the elbow or equivalent loss of function in both arms.

K44- Unilateral arm amputation or loss of toes (this affects the ability to lift the heel properly).


This is divided into six classes.

PT1: This is for wheelchair users. Athletes swim, cycle using a hand-bike and complete the 5km run in a racing wheelchair.

PT2-5: This is for ambulant athletes. Cycle with approved adaptations can be used and running can be done with or without prosthetics.

PTVI: This is for visually impaired athletes. Competitors have the option to ride a tandem cycle and run with a guide.

Wheelchair basketball

Basketball is open to wheelchair athletes. Impairments include paraplegia, lower limb amputation, cerebral palsy and polio.

Wheelchair fencing

Fencing is open to wheelchair athletes. Impairments include spinal cord injuries, lower limb amputation and cerebral palsy.

Category A: Athletes with good balance and recovery. Full trunk movement with a fully functioning fencing arm.

Category B: Athletes with poor balance and recovery, but full use of one or both upper limbs.

Wheelchair tennis

Tennis is played from a wheelchair with two classes – open and quad.

In wheelchair tennis, players are allowed two bounces of the ball.

In quad class, athletes have a severe leg impairment with some level of impairment in their playing arm.

Open class is for all athletes who have physically impaired and use a wheelchair.