(ATR) The Paralympics aren’t meant to be just a two week event says International Paralympics Committee executive director Xavier González.
Delegation of IPC and Americas Paralympic Committee in Lima (IPC)
Speaking to Around the Rings
following a tour of Asia and America, Gonzalez says the IPC wants host cities to approach the Paralympics as more than two weeks on the calendar.
“Our mission is not only to organize a Games for two weeks,” he says.
"For a Games to be considered successful they must also have left an important legacy in terms of improving the lives of people with disabilities in a specific country, in a specific city," Gonzalez tells ATR
In the past two weeks Gonzalez has toured the venues of the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing, the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo and the Parapan Am Games in Lima next year.
Beijing 2022 will be "a growth platform". (Beijing 2022)
He praised Beijing 2022 as “fulfilling all the steps" needed to prepare for the Paralympics. He says that Beijing could be "a growth platform" for the international Paralympic movement.
He termed the 2018 Winter Paralympics in PyeongChang a success, but observes “there are always things that can be improved" between one edition and another.
Alluding to the slow early sales of tickets in PyeongChang, Gonzalez said Beijing needs a plan to for ticket sales well in advance of the games. In the South Korean city many people who bought tickets later did not go to the stadiums.
He dismissed concerns in Beijing about the number of hotels with accessible rooms, especially for people using wheelchairs. He says the smaller dimension of the Winter Paralympics compared to the summer event will easily be handled by Beijing. And he says the city “has its historical experience of the 2008 Games ".
The situation is different in Tokyo for the 2020 Paralympics, he says.
The two main issues the IPC raised with the Organizing Committee following the latest Project Review are accessible transport and accessible hotel accommodation.
Transport for wheelchair athletes a concern for Tokyo 2020 (Tokyo 2020)
Currently there are some issues that could make it difficult to move a large number of athletes who use wheelchairs around the city using the Games-time transport. An estimated 1,800 wheelchair-using athletes are expected for the Games.
Gonzalez says the IPC remains concerned that there will be an insufficient number of fully accessible hotel rooms ready for the Games. It is, however, encouraged by progress that is being made to try to ease the situation although the full benefits may not be felt until after the Games.
The central government has announced that from September 2019 all newly built and refurbished hotels over 50 rooms must have at least one percent of fully accessible rooms.
Governor Yuriko Koike announced that Tokyo Metropolitan Government will amend an ordinance to establish barrier-free criteria that will apply to all general guest rooms for the first time.
"We trust that the new law will have an impact in the medium and long term as a legacy of the Games" Gonzalez tells ATR
González says that the transportation of athletes is integral to the success of any Paralympic Games. Athletes and teams want to travel together, he says. Gonzalez says the IPC is worried not only for the days of sport, but also for the Ceremonies when large numbers of athletes need to be moved.
At the end of January, the IPC Executive Board will define the Paris 2024 program from the 22 sports considered eligible in Tokyo plus cerebral palsy football.
Xavier Gonzalez, CEO of the IPC (ATR)
Golf, karate, Para dance sport, powerchair football and sailing will not be considered further for inclusion in Paris 2024, Gonzalez says. Those sports were not included for Tokyo after failing to meet the inclusion criteria for governance, rules and regulations, anti-doping program compliance and other issues.
Classification Code compliance, the costs and complexity of operations on the Paris 2024 organizing committee, in line with Olympic Agenda 2020 and the New Norm, were also considered he says.
"Sailing did not pass the cut. It will have to wait for the Games of 2028. It will have another opportunity to rejoin the Games,” said Gonzalez.
Los Angeles 2028
The IPC official announced that in the first quarter of 2019 he will make a second visit to Los Angeles to start work in more detail towards the 2028 Paralympics.
"It's a new situation with an Organizing Committee, at such a distance in time," he said, "so the dialogue is more strategic."
Gonzalez revealed that he and IPC president Andrew Parsons have been invited to the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees at the end of November in Tokyo.
Next year this month, the IPC will hold its Ordinary Assembly at its headquarters in Bonn to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of the world Paralympic organization
Reported by Miguel Hernandez.
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