Will Oscar Pistorius make an athletics comeback? And when could Paralympian return to track? Following gold medallist’s successful parole hearing after shooting Reeva Steenkamp dead ten years ago

Oscar Pistorius won his bid for parole on Friday, ten years after he murdered girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home.

The former Paralympian was sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison in 2017 after the Supreme Court of Appeal deemed the sentence of his second six-year trial too short, but has now won a parole battle after being convicted at the start of the trial was eligible. year.

While he was denied his freedom at his first hearing in March due to an error in the appeal court, Pistorius will be allowed to walk free at Friday’s hearing after being assessed by psychologists and welfare officials on January 5, 2024.

Before he killed Steenkamp, ​​Pistorius was a decorated athlete with a whopping six Paralympic gold medals to his name – and was the tenth athlete in history to compete in both the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

But with Pistorius released just over six months before the Paris Games next year, could the sprinter make a shock return to competition? Here, Mail Sport looks at the questions surrounding the possibility of Pistorius’ involvement.

Oscar Pistorius was released on parole for ten years after being convicted of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp (photo in 2016)

The former sprinter’s girlfriend was murdered at his home in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day in 2013

Before his conviction, Pistorius was a record-breaking para-athlete and had competed in both the Paralympic and Olympic Games in 2012.

What are the eligibility criteria for athletes competing in the 2024 Paralympic Games?

To participate in the Paralympic Games, athletes must hold an active World Para Athletics Athlete License for the 2024 season. They must also be internationally classified in an eligible sport class with a sport class status confirmed or is being processed.

In addition, they must have achieved the entry standard while performing in a World Para Athletics recognized competition between October 2022 and August 2024.

However, there is also the possibility of exemption from the third criterion if an athlete is accepted according to the ‘Bipartite Commission Invitation’ method. This is offered with discretion to, among others, top athletes who may not have had the opportunity to formally qualify due to extraordinary circumstances.

While there is little doubt that Pistorius has had no chances to qualify since 2022, it remains to be seen whether the Games will use discretionary measures to ensure the convicted murderer can compete in Paris.

How could Pistorius qualify?

Between January 5 and the start of the Paris Games, Pistorius would have his best chance of qualifying for the competition at the World Para-athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan.

However, the former sprinter could also have his chances curtailed by the entry requirements for this competition, with the championships in Japan between 2023 and 2024 having similar requirements in terms of performance in terms of participation.

Could Pistorius attend the World Para-athletics Championships?

Pistorius is unlikely to be given a discretionary place in the World Para-athletics Championships due to the location of the event.

Japan has some of the strictest rules against travelers with criminal convictions entering the country, denying entry to those who have committed a drug crime or, crucially, in Pistorius’ case, which carries a prison sentence of more than a year. years have been sentenced.

Article 5 Category 5.2 of Japan’s Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act specifically reserves the right to deny entry to the country to participants in international competitions convicted of murder.

Who has the final say on Pistorius’ involvement?

Even if Pistorius meets the requirements set by the Paralympic Committee organizers, they ultimately do not have the final say on whether the 37-year-old travels to the games.

Instead, the South African Sports Federation and the Olympic Committee will decide which team to bring to Paris. While their decision will be driven by the desire to win the optimal number of medals, the choice of Pistorius, just six months after he was released on parole, could be divisive.

The decision whether Pistorius will represent South Africa rests with the national sports committee

Can Pistorius leave South Africa?

As for the final say on whether Pistorius can travel, that will depend on the courts and the terms of his parole.

According to Department of Corrections spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo, he will not be allowed to leave Pretoria, the area he will return to, for five years without permission from the authority.

“Parolee does not mean the end of the sentence,” Nxumalo said. “It’s still part of the sentence.

“It just means that the inmate will serve the sentence outside of a correctional facility.”

Pistorius has served just over half of his 2017 sentence and will undergo anger management therapy and gender-based violence therapy, as well as community service, as part of his release.