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Sports ministry to examine athletes with driver's licenses

All Headlines 14:15 October 11, 2018

SEOUL, Oct. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's sports ministry will examine some of its visually impaired athletes at the Asian Para Games who are suspected of obtaining driver's licenses after passing vision tests.

The ministry said Thursday it will also check how athletes, who apparently had no visual impairments in their driver's license tests, were able to get selected for the para national team.

"It turned out that some visually impaired athletes actually have a driver's license," an official with the sports ministry said. "We will cooperate with the police and will ask the athletes to redo the aptitude test for driver's licenses to check their actual eyesight."

The officials said once the athletes return home from the Asian Para Games in Indonesia, it will arrange the test schedule with the police.

The issue was raised by Rep. Lee Jae-jung of the Minjoo Party, who claimed that four visually impaired athletes passed a vision test and obtained level 1 and level 2 driver's licenses. The vision requirements for the level 1 license is binocular visual acuity of at least 0.8 and 0.5 for each eye. The vision requirement for level 2 license is binocular visual acuity of at least 0.5.

Local authorities do accept corrected visual acuity with eyeglasses or contact lenses, but the ministry decided to re-examine the athletes to verify the facts.

According to Lee, one athlete had a binocular visual acuity of 1.5 and earned a level 2 driver's license, while another athlete, who earned a medal at the Asian Para Games, had a binocular visual acuity of 1.0 and obtained a level 1 driver's license.

"There is a big difference between vision standards for driver's license and sports classification standards for visually impaired set by an international federation, so we need to check the facts first," the official said. "We'll come up with follow-up measures after we check the result of their driver's license aptitude test."

Following the controversy, the Korea Paralympic Committee (KPC) said it will also review its classification system for visually impaired athletes.

Currently, blind athletes are given "classes" based on their visual impairments in accordance with the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSF) standards. In order to be classified, an athlete needs to submit medical reports approved by an ophthalmologist and needs be reviewed by a classification committee of the IBSF.

"Those visually impaired athletes were able to take part in competitions following the committee's decision," a KPC official said. "But considering the public sentiment on selection of visually impaired athletes, we'll have public hearings and listen to experts' opinions to improve our sports classification system."

This file pool photo taken on Sept. 19, 2018, shows Korea Paralympic Committee (KPC) President Lee Myung-ho handing the national flag to Jun Min-sik, South Korea's chef de mission for the Asian Para Games in Indonesia, at the national team launching ceremony in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)


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