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Everything You Need to Know About the CrossFit Open New Adaptive Divisions

Adaptive divisions will be introduced to the CrossFit Open for the first time in 2021. With the release of the 2021 CrossFit Games Competition Rulebook, CrossFit released its Adaptive Athlete Policy as well, outlining more details as to divisions, qualification and eligibility for adaptive athletes. Find out more below.

“CrossFit is committed to ensuring all CrossFit athletes have equal access and opportunity to participate in CrossFit events in a manner that is fair to all competitors while preserving the integrity of the sport,” the Rulebook reads.


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CrossFit was in conversation with WheelWOD, a programming and competition platform that aims to make all forms of fitness adaptable and accessible for everyone, and the Adaptive Training Academy, organization dedicated to providing adaptive fitness education, to include adaptive athletes in its competition season.

Read more: The Full Story: How the Adaptive CrossFit Open Came to Be

The adaptive divisions for the 2021 CrossFit Games season are allocated as follows:

  • Men and Women Adaptive: Upper Extremity
  • Men and Women Adaptive: Lower Extremity
  • Men and Women Adaptive: Neuromuscular
  • Men and Women Adaptive: Vision
  • Men and Women Adaptive: Short Stature
  • Men and Women Adaptive: Seated Athletes (with hip function)
  • Men and Women Adaptive: Seated Athletes (without hip function)
  • Men and Women Adaptive: Intellectual

There are currently no age divisions within the adaptive divisions, but athletes must have a competition age of 14 years old as of July 14, 2021.

Athletes with disabilities will be classified into these divisions as to “minimize the impact of the athletes’ impairment on their performance so the athletes’ fitness is ultimately tested, not their degree of impairment,” reads the Rulebook.

The following impairments will determine an athlete’s eligibility for competition in the adaptive divisions:

  • Ataxia
  • Athetosis
  • Hypertonia
  • Impaired Passive Range of Movement
  • Impaired Muscle Power
  • Limb Deficiency
  • Leg Length Difference
  • Vision Impairment
  • Short Stature
  • Intellectual Disability

Important note from the Rulebook: “It is important to note the requirement to possess an eligible permanent impairment is a prerequisite to participate in the adaptive divisions in CrossFit competitions but not the sole criterion. Conversely, the presence of a significant and permanent impairment not listed as one of the eligible impairments for competition (e.g., deafness) does not define an adaptive athlete in general but rather defines the eligibility for competition in CrossFit events for the 2021 season. Changes to eligibility may occur as the adaptive competition grows in future years.”

Athletes may be eligible for multiple sport classes under the current eligibility and classification descriptions, if that is the case, each athlete must choose the sport class and competition division that best represents their ability and places them in a category amongst like peers to maintain a fair competition.

You can read the full 2021 CrossFit Games Adaptive Athlete Policy, including eligibility details,  here.

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