Athletes and fans join World Championships 100 Days to Go celebration in Paris

French capital receives local and international guests inviting Parisians to come to Charlety Stadium in July and see the world's best in action 30 Mar 2023
A woman with a prosthetic leg running in a square in the middle of a group of children and adults
Two-time Paralympic champion Martina Caironi of Italy meeting fans at the Place de la Republique to promote Paris 23
ⒸDidier Echelard
By Paloma Gutierrez | For World Para Athletics

Paris had the opportunity to feel the atmosphere of the Para Athletics World Championships on Thursday (30 March) as an event at one of the French capital's most traditional landmarks marked the 100 days to go to the Paris 23 Worlds.

The Place de la Republique (Republic Square) received a short track and a throwing circle where fans of all ages had the opportunity to try Para athletics and meet some of the athletes who will be in action at the Charlety Stadium from 8 to 17 July.

“It’s great and important to have the World Championships at home. I think the event will definitely mark a change in Paris,” said France’s Paralympic and world champion Mandy Francois-Elie. “I live here and even having my family far away, I feel the support here.”

She was joined by other stars of the French Para athletics team such as Dubai 2019 world champion Timothee Adolphe. The 100 Days to Go event also had a multi-medallist international guest, Italy’s two-time Paralympic champion Martina Caironi.  

“Having the World Championships in the same place and one year before the Paralympics Games will be really interesting,” Caironi said. “Here today we could see how the public will be. I have met so many people and I encouraged them to come to see the competition this year but also the next one. I think it will be a great legacy for Paris in the future.”

Largest Worlds in history

For the Italian blade runner and jumper, the French capital will have an opportunity like no other.

“People are not just watching the competition, they are also seeing people with disabilities, people with strong bodies trying their best and that’s an important point because it will motivate many people, many Parisians that maybe don’t know anything about Para Sports. So the aim is to involve people and create interest in the sport,” said Caironi.

Earlier in the day, media had the opportunity to talk to athletes, World Para Athletics and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) about the World Championships coming to Paris in a 100 days’ time.

“This is the first World Championships since 2019, we all did the best to get pass the COVID pandemic and continue to offer opportunities in the best level for the athletes,” Paul Fitzgerald, Head of World Para Athletics said. “Paris 23 will be the largest Worlds in the history of World Para Athletics. The event will provide this massive stage for athletes here in Paris a year before the Paralympic Games, so they can showcase their abilities as athletes and as ambassadors for the 15 per cent of people around the world having an impairment.”

Adrien Balduzzi, Paris 23 LOC Director, added:

“The key point for us is to have a popular show and a great experience for all the spectators one year before the Paralympics. The most important for us is to promote the sport in France, and for that first we have to talk to the people about Para sports, so after they visit the stadium, people with disabilities can say ‘oh, I think I can also do that. I’m going to practice sport’.”

France will become the first country to host the Para Athletics World Championships in three occasion following Lille/Villeneuve d'Ascq 2002 and Lyon 2013.

“Compared to Lyon 2013, I think it will all be two times bigger. A big difference will also be in the communications and promotion around the event. We have a L’Equipe as our main media partners, a multi-channel and also the most famous newspaper in France. This is really important as we want to show that these are athletes in first [place], and also persons with disability,” Balduzzi added.

Over 1,000 athletes from more than 100 nations are set to compete in 171 medal events at the Charlety Stadium this year. 

Pictures and videos from the 100 Days to Go event can be found on World Para Athletics social media channels.