IPC President Parsons: Paralympic movement ready to go to next level
The Paralympic movement is in the midst of a ‘special moment’, according to recently elected International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons.
Parsons was elected President of the IPC in September 2017 – succeeding Sir Philip Craven who led the movement for 16 years – and the last five months have been a whirlwind for the Brazilian who has undertaken a seemingly perpetual travel itinerary.
But he is happy to put in the miles if it means the movement can take the next step and, with the Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang on the horizon followed by Games in major cities around the world, he is determined to ensure the IPC capitalises on the opportunities at hand.
“It’s been a crazy time,” Parsons told ParalympicsGB. “It’s been non-stop but that’s why I was elected. I think our movement is in a special moment in its history right now.
“We are looking to the future and in PyeongChang, Tokyo, Beijing, Paris, and LA, we have a very good pathway where we can make our movement go to the next level.
“In the future host cities, the excitement of what the Paralympic Games can bring to their country as a whole is fantastic but we have to make sure we support them.
“This is not a one-man or one-organisation effort it has to be a movement effort and that’s why I’m reaching out to the members and to the partners.
“Of course, on the field of play we compete with each other but we all have to work together to help the movement make that next step.”
For Parsons making that ‘next step’ is not just about delivering a Games and then moving on to the next; for him the Paralympic movement needs to captivate young hearts and minds around the world.
“We are a very special, vibrant and amazing movement and the youth are naturally eager to follow Paralympic sport but then we have to do our part,” said Parsons.
“You cannot communicate with someone who is 20 the same way as you do with someone who is 50 and I think some sport movements these days they are struggling to communicate and be relevant with those audiences.
“We need the fans. There is no support without the fans and we also must go to the next level when it comes to fans consuming Paralympic sport.
“Not only every four years – or two years for countries with a winter programme – we have to change, we have to captivate the youth and show them the power of the Paralympic movement.”
While Parsons will be kept busy by the Winter Games in PyeongChang in March he is also keen to deliver a professional classification system and explore the possibility of creating a Paralympic Youth Games.
“These are of course long-term goals but goals that I believe can help the movement,” Parsons added.
“But it’s not just a case of paying classifiers we have to have a professional relationship with them. We have to explore exactly what it means to implement a system like that and what it would look like.
“For me it is a matter of priority but we have to build a common understanding within the movement of what this would mean and what the impact would be to deliver it.
“And for Youth Games I think the impact could be huge and I would like to kick-off discussion with NPCs about how this would look.”