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  • Parsons Seeks to Bolster Paralympics Profile


    (ATR) Youth Paralympics and a louder voice in host city elections could be on tap for the International Paralympic Committee if Andrew Parsons is elected to lead the organization, according to the candidate.
    Andrew Parsons is IPC vice-president and former president of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (Getty Images)

    IPC vice president and former Brazilian Paralympic Committee chief Parsons unveiled his presidential manifesto on June 22 that promises big changes for the organization. Parsons says the changes he hopes to bring to the organization could build on the “immense” legacy left by exiting president Philip Craven.

    “I think the Paralympic Movement is much more relevant to the world now [because of Craven],” Parsons told media in a roundtable discussion.

    “It was an unknown before, but now we can really help change the attitude of persons towards persons with impairment. And now we have more opportunities to inspire those with impairments.”

    In all, Parsons’ manifesto includes 14 pillars to help develop para-sport and inspire the next generation of athletes and fans.

    Parsons says one of the primary ways to bolster the Paralympic Movement is to have better cooperation with the International Olympic Committee, the sole body responsible for choosing which city hosts both the Olympics and Paralympics.

    “What I would like to have in the future is a closer relationship between two organizations so after the election of the host city we can work together and more closely for the delivery of both Games,” Parsons tells Around the Rings.

    Parsons adds that he is not concerned that the IPC will not have a vote in the upcoming host city election for the Summer 2024 Games and possibly Summer 2028 given the IOC’s dual award proposal. The IPC typically is represented in the IOC by its president, but given the IPC presidential election on Sep. 8 and the IOC host city election on Sep. 13, current president Craven will no longer have a vote and neither will his successor.

    “We have a very good relationship with IOC so we trust them and whatever decision they take in the Extraordinary Session or in Lima, Peru will be the best for both organizations and both games,” Parsons assures ATR.

    While Parsons also admits the IPC should have a louder voice in the selection process, he knows those in charge of the decision making have the best interests of the Paralympics in mind.

    Paralympic logo on Rio's Copacabana Beach (IPC)
    “I’ve been a member of an Evaluation Commission for the 2020 Games, so when we were visiting Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo, I could notice that the focus of every single one in that commission was on both Games, in the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he tells ATR.

    “Even though we only have one vote, every voting IOC member understands the responsibility that they have before not only the Olympic Movement but also the Paralympic Movement.”

    Another of the more compelling proposals in Parson’s manifesto is the creation of Youth Paralympic Games that could be a game-changer in terms of youth development in para-sport.

    “I would say that we will explore the possibility [of Youth Paralympics],” Parsons said. “But the first thing we have to understand from our membership is what the Youth Paralympic Games will look like. For example, the Youth Olympics have an approach of a lab where they can try new sports and try a new approach to sports already on the Olympic program.

    “What I’m proposing in 2018 we can discuss and understand the model of the Youth Paralympic Games that the Paralympic Movement wants,” he continued. “I want to start that discussion on it because it’s something the movement needs and it’s something our members have been talking about.”

    Parsons (second left) at press conference announcing IPC suspension of Russia from Rio Paralympics (ATR)
    Before the IPC can begin to look at future events, it also must deal with problems in the present. The IPC is still up in the air about Russia’s participation in the upcoming PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympics after the IPC suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee ahead of Rio 2016 for its doping violations.

    “I think the situation with Russia is very clear,” he says. “I am strongly in favor of the position we took [in Rio]. We want them to compete but they have steps to take.

    “These steps have been published and we are working with the RPC and hoping that in September at the next governing board meeting we can see the steps they have taken and then we have to take the decision whether to reinstate them or not because this may affect the ability of Russian athletes to compete in PyeongChang.

    “We want them back but they have some homework to do.”

    In order to make all of his proposals a reality, Parsons must first win the vote of his fellow IPC members during the IPC General Assembly in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates this September.

    Parsons is competing with three other candidates for the presidency including former Canadian Paralympic Committee president Patrick Jarvis, former European Paralympic Committees president John Petersson and China Paralympic Committee president Zhang Haidi. The next IPC president will be chosen on Sep. 8.

    Around the Rings
    is conducting interviews with each of the candidates as the election nears.

    Click here to read more about John Petersson's presidential campaign.

    Written by Kevin Nutley

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