The ITF is set to endorse the Virtus World Tennis Championships, previously known as the International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability (INAS), that are scheduled to be hosted in Sint-Truiden in Belgium from 18-24 July 2021 following the cancellation of the 2020 Championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the first time a Virtus World Tennis Championship has received such support, following their endorsement of the Global Games in 2019 and recognises the growing collaboration at both an international and national level with many National Tennis Federations supporting Virtus players at a domestic level. Virtus statement
This is the first Virtus event to be confirmed in the 2021 calendar, which is being adjusted to accommodate the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
The ITF endorsed the INAS Global Games in 2019, when the Closing Ceremony coincided with the adoption of the new name, the first time a Virtus World Tennis Championship has received such support.
“We are particularly pleased to also announce that the competition will be endorsed by the ITF,” Virtus said.
“This is the first time a Virtus World Tennis Championship has received such support, following their endorsement of the Global Games in 2019 and recognises the growing collaboration at both an international and national level with many National Tennis Federations supporting Virtus players at a domestic level.”
The Virtus World Tennis Championships is expected to attract more than 30 athletes from 10 countries.
Despite the impact of coronavirus, Virtus is planning a full competition programme in 2021 and updated information regarding this championship and other rearranged events will be available online over the coming days and weeks.
The Virtus vision is to give athletes with an intellectual impairment across the world the opportunity to achieve excellence in sport and high-level competition.
Around two per cent of the global population have an intellectual impairment – one of the biggest groups in society.
The International Association of Sport for People with Mental Handicap was established in 1986 by professionals in the Netherlands, who were involved in sport and wanted to promote the participation of athletes with ‘mental handicap’.
Known as INAS-FMH, the founding meeting and first Executive were appointed in January 1986 and became a member of the ICC – the International Coordinating Committee – which in 1992 became the International Paralympic Committee.
INAS-FMH’ original membership was just 14 nations which has steadily grown to more than 80 nations today.
The ‘1st World Games for Athletes with an Intellectual Disability’ were held in Harnosand, Sweden in 1989.
In September 1991 ahead of the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, the first Paralympic Games for ‘Persons with mental handicap’ were held in Madrid, at which 70 nations competed.
Following a period of absence from the Paralympic programme, events for athletes with an intellectual impairment were re-instated by the IPC General Assembly in November 2009 and around 120 athletes went on to compete in athletics, swimming and table tennis at London 2012.
During this period, INAS’ sport programme grew considerably to incorporate more than 10 sports whilst its membership and reach grew to cover five continents.
Today’s sport programme includes some 15 annual events, more than 4,500 athletes are registered to compete at an international level, whilst more than 300,000 people with an intellectual disability worldwide have the opportunity to enjoy sport through the work of our member organisations.
On 19th October 2019, at the closing ceremony of the 5th Global Games, INAS announced a substantial rebranding and is now known as Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport.