No. 31 High profile figures support Rio 2016 and the Paralympic Movement

Ban Ki-moon and Pope Francis were amongst those who publicly supported the Paralympic Movement this year. 01 Dec 2016 By IPC

"It's a great idea to open up the events to the community while also helping to build a sense of excitement in the stadiums for these amazing competitors.”

Ban Ki-moon, Pope Francis, Prince Harry and Coldplay were amongst the high profile figures that publicly supported the Paralympic Movement, Paralympic athletes and the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games this year. This made it to the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) No. 31 of the 2016 Top 50 Moments.

In March 2016, IPC President Sir Philip Craven travelled to New York, USA, to meet with the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the UN’s headquarters.

During the meeting, Sir Philip highlighted that he believes the Paralympic Games are the world’s number one sporting event for driving social inclusion and can contribute to the success of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In return, Ban Ki-moon praised Sir Philip’s leadership and the IPC’s role in advancing sport for people of all abilities around the world.

Ban Ki-moon has highlighted the IPC’s importance on various occasions over the past few years and even sent a video message for the IPC’s 25th anniversary in2014.

In August, Pope Francis welcomed four Para athletes in front of an audience in St. Peter’s Square and wished good luck to everyone competing at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The Pontiff met with these athletes – two from hosts Brazil and two from Italy – to share his thoughts and excitement for the Paralympics.

“I particularly wish to greet the members of the International Paralympic Committee and the athletes who are getting ready to celebrate the next Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” Pope Francis said.

During the audience, the athletes spoke to the Pope about how they believe their performances at Rio 2016 will lead to those watching the Paralympics to change their attitudes toward people with an impairment.

“It was a great moment that I’ll never forget,” said Brazilian wheelchair fencer Jovane Guissone. “The Pope gave us his blessing, wished us good luck in the Paralympic Games and asked us to pray for the victims of the earthquake in Italy.

“I gave him a jacket of the Brazilian delegation. When he came in our direction I could hardly believe I was actually there.”

Prince Harry, Coldplay support #FilltheSeats

A few weeks before the Rio 2016 Paralympics, tickets were not selling fast and it looked like Paralympic stars would participate in half-empty stadia.

But at the end of the Games, Brazilians had ended up coming out in masses. More than 2.1 million tickets were sold, second most in Paralympic history.

A unique online campaign called #FilltheSeats helped ensure that many of them were school children in Brazil who might not have the resources to enjoy the Games otherwise.

More than 15,000 children in all were able to attend the Games after the global crowdfunding #FilltheSeats campaign raised more than USD 450,000 and surpassed all initial goals.

The many supporters included Prince Harry, rock band Coldplay, actor Ed Westwick and Chinese pianist LangLang, as well as corporate sponsors like Visa, Samsung, Allianz, Sainsburys, Mars, Citi Bank and Cellhire.

A Kensington Palace spokeswoman said: "It's a great idea to open up the events to the community while also helping to build a sense of excitement in the stadiums for these amazing competitors.”

Other supporters have included Olympic Broadcasting Services and British Paralympic broadcaster Channel 4.

To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2016, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.