New push to make Down’s syndrome swimmers eligible for Paralympics

Members of the “Special 21” project are yet again pushing to make Down’s syndrome swimmers eligible to participate in the Paralympic Games and are calling for help to make their voices heard – especially now that the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has started a three-year review of its 2015 IPC Athlete Classification Code.

The “Special 21” project launched its website at the end of 2019 in hopes of raising awareness about the plight of Down’s syndrome swimmers, who are effectively barred from taking part in the Paralympics.

But as project founder Cyril Griffith told us, the Covid-19 pandemic has held their efforts back like it has so many other initiatives.

Now, with the Paralympic Games just weeks away, the goal is to get the topic back in the limelight.

“As the rules are now, Down’s syndrome swimmers will never be able to qualify for the Paralympics,” Cyril said.

However, this year’s announcement that the IPC is reviewing its Athlete Classification Code could finally “open the door” for Down’s syndrome athletes in general.
The first round of consultation is open until September 17 (

Meanwhile, an online petition launched in Spain to include Down’s syndrome athletes in the Paralympic Games has nearly amassed 73,000 of the 75,000 signatures it set out to collect (search for ‘Inclusión de atletas con síndrome de Down en los Juegos Paralímpicos’ at

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