(ATR) International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons says he is reassured following a virtual presentation by Tokyo 2020 affirming and updating the organization’s positioning, principles and roadmap to the 2021 Paralympic Games.
"We have confidence that the Organizing Committee is taking appropriate measures to re-plan the Games," Parsons tells Around the Rings. "At the end of the day, Tokyo 2020 can only influence what is under its control, it cannot influence the global picture regarding the pandemic, and so far the Organizing Committee is going about the job it needs to do very well.
"The key difference between what Tokyo 2020 presented the IPC Governing Board and the IOC Executive Board was the positioning of the Paralympics compared to Olympics," Parsons said. "Although they are part of one event, Tokyo 2020, the two Games are different in terms of experience and outcomes and I was pleased to see this reflected in what Tokyo 2020 presented."
The presentation was delivered on the final day of the IPC’s first-ever remote Governing Board meeting in the organization’s nearly 31-year history on Thursday. Four three-hour long sessions were held on July 3, 4, 7 and 8.
As underlined in a revised public document, Tokyo 2020’s positioning is focused upon core values, Games preparation and necessary adaptations in the execution of the re-scheduled Paralympics due to COVID-19.
"Tokyo 2020’s positioning document highlighted the Organizing Committee’s commitment for the Paralympics in 2021 to be a global celebration of human endeavor, resilience and hope," said Parsons, a Brazilian sports administrator who has led the IPC since Sept. 2017.
"With athletes and sports placed at the heart of the Games, Tokyo 2020 believe the Paralympics will be a spectacular showcase of sport with Para athletes entertaining the world and advancing a more inclusive world.
"Tokyo 2020 is looking to simplify the Games for next year and we are more than happy to support them and the IOC with this exercise. We had to do something similar four years ago when the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee faced financial challenges."
The Roadmap to the Olympic and Paralympic Games shows that determining core countermeasures – as dictated by the current domestic and worldwide health situation surrounding COVID-19 – is scheduled to begin in mid-August and run through the end of 2020.
"From this roadmap you can see that up until now Tokyo 2020 has been focusing on mitigating the consequences of March’s postponement and developing a path of action through to 2021," Parsons says. "With this wider strategy now in place and agreed by both the IOC and IPC, Tokyo 2020 can now start to look closer at what countermeasures it will need to put in place."
The 16th Summer Paralympic Games were re-scheduled in March for Aug. 24 – Sept. 5, 2021. Some 4,400 Para athletes from more than 80 NPC’s are expected to compete.
IPC Explores Para Athletes Right to Protest
As athlete groups call for swift change regarding the IOC’s Rule 50, which prohibits protests during medal ceremonies and on the field of play, Parsons informs that the IPC’s Athlete Council will begin exploring the subject at greater length through a consultation exercise with the global athlete community later this month.
"As an athlete-centered organization that has inclusion at its core, we want to use this athlete consultation exercise to listen and learn," Parsons tells ATR. "Once we have gathered all views, we can then shape what changes may be needed for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Parsons says the mission of focus groups will be to provide athletes with a clearer understanding regarding current rules and what is and what is not permitted by athletes, in addition to reasons behind the rules.
"The IPC is fully committed to ending unlawful discrimination for every single person on this planet," Parsons said. "As an organization, we work hard particularly to end the stigma that is attached to disability while also pursuing greater equality in areas such as race, gender and sexuality.
"The Paralympic Games are about amazing sport and achievements that trigger societal change," the IPC leader added. "We look forward to being part of the solution."
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli
Follow Brian on Twitter: @Brian_Pinelli
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