International Paralympic Committee gets a head start on search for new governing bodies of para athletics and para swimming

The IPC has moved forward with plan to find new governing bodies for para athletics and para swimming ahead of a vote on the proposal at the upcoming IPC General Assembly.

Athletics - 2019 World Para Athletics Championships - Dubai Club for People of Determination Athletics Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - November 15, 2019    Japan's Tomoki Sato in action during the Men's 1500m T52 Final   REUTERS/Christopher Pike
Athletics - 2019 World Para Athletics Championships - Dubai Club for People of Determination Athletics Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - November 15, 2019 Japan's Tomoki Sato in action during the Men's 1500m T52 Final REUTERS/Christopher Pike

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has invited parties interested in becoming the new governing bodies of para athletics and para swimming to engagement meetings prior to the deadline for the submission of proposals on April 22, 2022.

The process could end with the governance of the two sports handed over from World Para Sports, a group directly governed by the IPC, to an organization independent of the IPC.

However, the entire process remains conditional at this time, as the governance reform proposed by the IPC has yet to be approved by the membership of the IPC.

The proposed governance reform seeks to end IPC governance over individual sports by 2026. A vote on the governance reform is for December 11 at the IPC General Assembly.

Should the governance reform be passed by the members, the IPC plans to open a bidding process for the takeover of the sports in January 2022. Interested parties would then be invited to a second round of meetings before the April 22 proposal submission deadline.

IPC President Andrew Parsons, who is running unopposed for re-election at the General Assembly, commented, “The IPC is encouraged that there is already strong interest from organisations, cities, and governments to become the home of Para athletics and Para swimming.”

“Now we move to the next stage: we need to prepare to launch a competitive bidding process in January 2022 should the IPC General Assembly approve the governance reform proposals published two years ago.”

“Crucially the IPC is committed to ensure that both Para sports continue to thrive after becoming independent from the IPC, so we will be encouraging respondents to think creatively, expansively, and ‘outside the box’.”

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Swimming - Women's 50m Backstroke - S4 Final - Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Tokyo, Japan - September 3, 2021. Yu Liu of China in action REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Swimming - Women's 50m Backstroke - S4 Final - Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Tokyo, Japan - September 3, 2021. Yu Liu of China in action REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The criteria the IPC has laid out for potential governing bodies is that proposals will need to demonstrate that the organization can effectively govern para sports, that the organization has a vision and reasoning for wanting to govern the para sports, that the organization is one that embraces the core values of the Paralympic movement, and that the organization is strategically located in a place that is accessible, inclusive, and supportive of people with disabilities.

Para athletics and para swimming are two of the most popular sports at the Paralympic Games. Both have featured on the sports program of every Summer Paralympic Games.

According to the International Paralympic Committee, “one in every four athletes at Tokyo 2020 competed in Para athletics – a total of 1142 athletes in 167 medal events”.

Para swimming also featured prominently at the Games with 604 athletes competing across 146 medal events.