Para Climbing Added to a Paralympic Games for the First Time

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Athletes, guides, coaches, officials and staff at the 2023 IFSC Para Climbing World Cup in Salt Lake City
Members of the Para Climbing community have long been dreaming of inclusion in a Paralympic Games, and that dream finally became a reality this week, when Para Climbing was approved for the Paralympics in Los Angeles. (Pictured: athletes, guides, coaches, officials and staff at the 2023 IFSC Para Climbing World Cup in Salt Lake City, held at The Front Climbing Club SLC; photo by Slobodan Miskovic / IFSC)

Earlier this month, the news dropped that Para Climbing was nearing inclusion in a Paralympic Games—the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles. LA28—the organizing committee for those Games—had submitted a proposal to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to add Para Climbing to the list of 22 other sports on the program. That proposal was officially approved by the IPC Governing Board on Wednesday, June 26, marking the first time Para Climbing has ever been added to a Paralympic sports program.

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“Thank you to the IPC for welcoming us as part of the Paralympic family, but thanks must also go to the LA28 organizing committee for believing in our sport and making history for the both of us,” said Marco Scolaris, President of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC), following the approval. “By proposing climbing as an additional sport, they have given us another opportunity to fulfill our purpose—to make the world a better place through climbing. All of our Para athletes do this every day, and now they can do it on the world stage for all to see at the Paralympic Games.”

“When I first [started] climbing at 12 years old, the idea that Sport Climbing, let alone Para Climbing for people like me, would enter the world stage on the Olympic and Paralympic scale was unimaginable,” longtime Para Climbing athlete Mo Beck said of the historic moment in a USA Climbing (USAC) announcement. “I cannot wait for the opportunity for our para athletes to amaze the world with what they can do, and look forward to growing the sport in a way that is accessible to all athletes. And to 12-year-old me, I say: ‘Keep at it, you never know what heights you’ll reach with the help of an incredible community.’ LA28, let’s go!’”

More information about the approval can be found in the announcements on the IPC, IFSC and USAC websites, and additional context around the proposal can be found in the original CBJ article below.

 


Para Climbing Nears Inclusion at 2028 Paralympics in Los Angeles

Published June 14, 2024

2023 IFSC Para Climbing World Cup in Salt Lake City
Para Climbing has yet to be added to a Paralympic sports program, but that first could very well take place later this month, if LA28’s proposal is approved by the IPC. (Photo of Mary Tankersley climbing at the 2023 IFSC Para Climbing World Cup in Salt Lake City, held at The Front Climbing Club’s SLC location; photo by Slobodan Miskovic / IFSC)

On Wednesday, LA28—the organizing committee for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles—proposed the addition of Para Climbing to the 2028 Paralympic Sports Program. The proposal marks the first time an organizing committee has proposed additional sports for both an Olympic and Paralympic sports program, and—if approved by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)—it would mark the first time Para Climbing has been added to a Paralympic sports program.

According to articles on the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) website, previously—in January 2023—the IPC decided to not include Para Climbing on the initial program for the Paralympics in Los Angeles. But the IPC did leave the door open for additional sports to be added, identifying a shortlist of sports from which LA28 could consider making a selection. That selection turned out to be Para Climbing, which would join 22 other sports on the program for those Paralympic Games, if the selection is approved. A decision from the IPC is expected on June 26, when the IPC Governing Board will be reviewing and voting on the proposal.

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Per the IFSC’s announcement, “…LA28 assessed the global and domestic popularity, the universality at major international events as well as the cost and complexity of the shortlisted sport,” when making the decision. Globally, Para Climbing events sanctioned by the IFSC have long been taking place in countries around the world—including in the United States, where IFSC Para Climbing World Cups stateside have been held for four straight years, first at Sender One LAX in Los Angeles in 2021 and then at climbing gyms in Salt Lake City the past three years. Domestically, at the national level, USA Climbing (USAC) has been holding Para Climbing National Championships for over 10 years, ever since the first one at Stone Summit Atlanta in Georgia. And locally, climbing gyms and organizations in the U.S. have been running adaptive climbing programs for decades.

“It has been quite a journey, one led by amazing athletes, and an ongoing effort to see this day come to reality,” USAC CEO & President Marc Norman said in USAC’s announcement. “We’d like to thank LA28 for recognizing our athletes and look forward to a potential confirmation on June 26.”

“I just cried at work,” added Mo Beck, a decorated Para Climbing athlete and member of the USA Para Climbing National Team.

“…When we were notified by the Los Angeles 2028 Organizing Committee, my first thought was for our athletes and their chance to show the world what they can do,” IFSC President Marco Scolaris said in the aforementioned IFSC announcement. “My next one was to some of our crazy visionaries who first believed in the magic of Para Climbing, together with us. I am talking about pioneers like the former Presidents of the Italian and French Federations, Ariano Amici and Pierre You. We all took our first crazy step together in 2011 with Para Climbing’s debut at our World Championship and we hope that the next step will be the IPC confirmation.”

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The summer Games in 2028 is the third edition to have a climbing event on the program. Sport Climbing first made its Olympic Games debut at the most recent summer Olympics in Tokyo, and this year speed climbing and bouldering/lead climbing will be split up into two competitions at the upcoming summer Olympics in Paris. Sport Climbing is already set for a return in Los Angeles, having been on the initial sports program since it was approved in 2022.

More information about the Para Climbing announcement can be found on the LA28, IFSC and USAC websites.

 


Editor’s Note: In much of the past World Cup and National Championship reportage, paraclimbing has been written as a single word; in the LA28 proposal, it is written as “Para Climbing,” so that is how we have chosen to refer to it in this article.

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