The International Rafting Federation has produced a classification system for Para rafting ©IRF

The International Rafting Federation (IRF) has announced the official launch of Para rafting after finalising the rules and classification system.

A Para Rafting Committee was appointed by the IRF in October 2020, tasked with putting structures in place to enable the sport to flourish.

The IRF said comprehensive policies and procedures were available to guide nations and organisations in setting up and running Para rafting events as well as documents to help athletes through the classification process.

The aim of the IRF is to get a wide diversity of abilities to compete in the sport and work towards Paralympic inclusion.

Before that, the IRF will looks to stage World and Continental Championships.

The IRF said it was using a "functional" classification system which encourages teams comprising athletes of different abilities to compete against each other in a "reasonably fair way".

"The IRF recognises that every impairment is different and will affect the individual to a greater or lesser extent," a statement from the IRF read.

"For example, someone who has lost three limbs will be fundamentally disadvantaged compared to someone who has a visual impairment.

"The mix of impairments potentially within one team could be significantly different to that of another team and to race such teams against each other could be inherently unfair.

"Our classifications therefore assess the impact of a range of impairment on an individual’s functional abilities to participate in the sport of rafting.

"A point system focused on the competitor’s functional abilities is enforced to ensure fair competition."

The IRF said it had hoped to run the inaugural Para Rafting World Rafting Championships this year only to postpone the event to 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We encourage members to start running local events, when pandemic restrictions allow, so as to get Para rafting well and truly off to a flying start," the statement added.