Regional Paralympic heads meet in Dubai to discuss future of para-sports

With a focus on development, the Asian Paralympic Committee is looking to increase involvement ahead of Paris 2024

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Photo courtesy of AFC
Photo courtesy of AFC

Dubai sits at the crossroads of civilization. A natural trading hub, it made the perfect host city for a meeting between the executives of the five Regional Paralympic Organizations.

Regional Paralympic leaders gathered in the Emirati metropolis to discuss the international development of para-sport, efforts to assist struggling national Paralympic committees (NPCs), and the future of regional organizations within the Paralympic Movement.

A focus was put on development, with regional organizations positioned to act as guides and serve as examples for national para-sport bodies.

Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) President Majid Rashed commented, “over the years, the ROs have played significant roles in helping the Paralympic Movement grow across the globe,” adding, “it is important for us to meet and discuss important issues and share experiences and matters to develop the Movement in our regions.”

He explained, “at APC, we always believe that ‘Together we are stronger’, and we believe that we can open the doors to exchange ideas and use them as a benchmark for us.”

Rashed added, “I hope this meeting will help us discuss our plans, know our roles better within the IPC and work together in reaching our goals.”

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - September 5, 2021. Hossain Rasouli of Afghanistan and Zakia Khudadadi of Afghanistan carry the flag of Afghanistan during the closing ceremony  REUTERS/Issei Kato     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony - Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - September 5, 2021. Hossain Rasouli of Afghanistan and Zakia Khudadadi of Afghanistan carry the flag of Afghanistan during the closing ceremony REUTERS/Issei Kato TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Asia has played a critical role in the Paralympic Movement in recent years. The last three editions of the Paralympic Games were held on the eastern end of the continent, including a pair of events held after the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Rashed highlighted the efforts made by his own country to foster and cater to high level para-sport.

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“The UAE has a lot of initiatives and programs for the People of Determination under the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE,” noted the regional official.

Dubai hosted the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships, as well as the 2017 Asian Youth Para Games. The country has also twice hosted the IWAS World Games in the Emirate of Sharjah.

Sunday’s meeting built on previous regional conclaves, the last of which was held during the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru.

Those present at the meeting include Oceania Paralympic Committee President Paul Bird, European Paralympic Committee President Raymon Blondel, Americas Paralympic Committee President Julio César Ávila Sarria, African Paralympic Committee Vice President Hayat Khattab, and APC CEO Tarek Souei.

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It was not immediately clear if International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons or another representative of the IPC were present at the meeting.

Next year will be an important year for para-sport, with Africa, Asia, and the Americas scheduled to host their regional multi-sport games for the first time since the emergence of COVID-19.

Those events will be followed by the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, which are due to open on August 28, 2024.