“London 2012 will quite simply be ‘Sport Like Never Before’. Our elite athletes will captivate billions around the world, will inspire millions, and ultimately lead societal change and help alter perceptions of what can be achieved by a person with an impairment and, in fact, can be achieved by anybody."
Around 200 sports scientists and researchers, classifiers, coaches, trainers and sport administrators, who have an interest in Paralympic Sport, have gathered to exchange information for the four-day conference (31 August – 3 September) whose theme this year is "A multi-disciplinary approach to Paralympic success".
Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee said: “As the Paralympic Movement has grown, so has the need for sports science, excellence in research, greater knowledge of medicine, classification and ethics.
“That is why VISTA is the most important international event for experts in Paralympic Sport.
“It is quite possible that what is discussed between now and Saturday could benefit athletes and National Paralympic Committees that are preparing for London 2012, but also those who are looking further ahead to Sochi 2014, Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018.
“London 2012 will quite simply be ‘Sport Like Never Before’. Our elite athletes will captivate billions around the world, will inspire millions, and ultimately lead societal change and help alter perceptions of what can be achieved by a person with an impairment and, in fact, can be achieved by anybody.
“What is discussed this week at VISTA will play a key part in ensuring that success.”
During the conference there will be three keynote addresses which will open each day.
The first will be delivered on Thursday 1 September by Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport and will concentrate on organizational development on Paralympic Sport.
On Friday 2 September Professor Yves Vanlandewijck, Chairperson of the IPC Sports Science Committee will give a presentation on evidence based classification, before Professor Mike McNamee from Swansea University, Great Britain gives the final keynote on Saturday 3 September. His address will concern the challenges and opportunities for the Paralympic Movement: ethical and conceptual.
In addition there will also be a number of invited symposia and free communications that will ensure that this VISTA conference will be the best yet.
Wilfried Lemke, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace will present a symposium on Social Legacy in the Paralympic Movement.
Lemke said: “Access to Sport, physical activity and play is a fundamental human right for everyone.
“The IPC is a very important and successful actor not only in the field of sport, but in the promotion and support of rights for persons with a disability – this is where UN and IPC stand united very tightly, as the recent meeting of Sir Philip and the Secretary-General on 11 May 2011 has confirmed.
“Sports can change what communities think and feel about persons with a disability and what persons with a disability think and feel about themselves.
“The upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, along with other important international events, will prove the next excellent opportunity for Adaptive Sport to stand out, with great sport and emotional highlights.”
The VISTA conference is sponsored by the EU’s Regional Development Fund, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister for Federal Affairs, Europe and the Media, Nachhaltigkeit. Sustainability. Durabilité. in Bonn and the Haus der Geschichte Museum.
Lord Mayor of Bonn, Jürgen Nimptsch said: “The International Paralympic Committee has become one of the important bricks in our international future profile. As it builds a bridge between Bonn as an international city and the city of sports, it perfectly fits into our profile as a centre for international cooperation.
“I would be very pleased if one day, the Paralympic Idea and the City of Bonn will be as closely linked in all people’s minds as the Olympic Idea and the City of Lausanne are today.”
Sir Philip Craven said: “We are of course, delighted to stage this conference in Bonn, the IPC’s home city.
“Bonn is a city with many benefits. Not only is it extremely accessible, but it also has some superb conference venues. We are delighted that the Gustav Stresemann Institute will host VISTA for a second time and are also grateful to Haus der Geschichte for staging today’s press conference and Opening Ceremony.”