How Asian NPCs responded to COVID-19 crisis

'The session was not just about sports but also the do's and don’ts during the COVID-19 lockdown' 02 Jul 2020
APC President Majid Rashid
Asian Paralympic Committee President Majid Rashid inspecting the mobile service for COVID-19 testing.
ⒸAsian Paralympic Committee
By Taus Rizvi / Asian Paralympic Committee

With COVID-19 halting sporting activities and throwing life into a disarray, the Para athletes had their share of agony and despair.

To not let the spirits of the athletes dampen and to keep them motivated, several initiatives were put into place by the National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) around Asia.

The Asian NPCs made the best use of social media with innovative training regimes for athletes across the region.

The Paralympic Committee of India (PCI), in collaboration with the Sports Authority of India (SAI), organised a 15-day webinar - Para Sports Online Development Programme.

The initiative, moderated by India’s legendary Paralympian and president of PCI Deepa Malik, focused on basic fundamentals, technical and scientific aspects of various disciplines of Para sports. Prominent Para athletes, national coaches, physiotherapists, SAI and PCI officials participated in the programme.

PCI development Programme


Interestingly, PCI also reached out to Para athletes from neighbouring countries - Sri Lanka and Bhutan.

“The webinar was basically a revision for the Para athletes and a chance to grow. These were motivating and engaging sessions that was not just about sports but also the do's and don’ts during the COVID-19 lockdown. We are happy that we got a good response,” said Rahul Swami, chief administrator, PCI.

Malik was also extremely pleased with the response they received.

“The aim was to keep the Para athletes engaged with interactive sessions, encourage positivity and at the same time, it was educational programme on Para sports.

“It was also a basic kind of info on how to join, define categories. It was more aimed at awareness, not just for Para athletes, but also people related to sports. We reached out to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and also discussed on the talent search part of it, where we spoke to physical education teachers from across India who attended it,” said Malik.

NPC Kazakhstan president offers help

In Central Asia, like many other nations the state of emergency in Kazakhstan was introduced on 16 March. To fight the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic that has affected around 10,000 in the country, NPC Kazakhstan president Kairat Boranbayev, along with the President of the National Olympic Committee Timur Kulibayev, donated KZT 1 billion tenge (around EUR 2.2 million) to the administration of Nur-Sultan city and eight ambulance cars equipped with resuscitator and artificial lung ventilation apparatus to Almaty city.

Boranbayev also established an Emergency Response Unit aimed at rendering assistance for those who lost their jobs during the outbreak at Almaty city. In total, 1,082 grocery baskets weighted 14 tonnes were transferred. He also arranged hotels in Nur-Sultan to accommodate those who arrived in the city from abroad as quarantine zone.

APC President Majid Rashed praises UAE government

In West Asia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has undertaken a significant mass testing programme which encompasses the disabled community (known as People of Determination in the UAE) including Para athletes. The UAE government has ensured that medical representatives reached out to them in their homes, if needed.

The Asian Paralympic Committee president Majid Rashed thanked the UAE government for this ‘great initiative’ and was also present when Dubai Ambulance started the initiative to encourage people to take up the scheme. Rashed, who is also the CEO of Dubai Club for People of Determination, encouraged other governments as well to support the People of Determination.

“This pandemic has been the greatest challenge that our region has seen for decades but how we respond to it, is part of the identity of the Paralympic Movement. Para athletes are used to adapting to whatever life throws at them and remaining positive and we have seen this in the response of the both the athletes and NPCs.

“From sharing innovative training methods that reinforce the #stayhome message, organising online courses to upskill coaches to donating equipment and funds to help the fight against the virus, I’m incredibly proud of the all of efforts from the Asian Paralympic Movement. Once again, they have shown that Together we are Stronger,” said Rashed.

NPC Iran's medical department on high alert

Meanwhile, NPC Iran has taken several initiatives in support of the Para athletes since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the country. The health observing system of the NPC Iran Medical department has been checking on the athletes' health meticulously. Through the feedback received from the athletes, sufficient advice or medication are offered to them. If any athlete has the symptoms, more serious actions are being taken by the medical department (i.e. taking further tests, hospitalising etc.).

Specific sports exercises have also been designed and circulated for the selected Paralympians to be performed at home by the NPC Iran Academy. Besides, the spirit of the athletes has been lifted up by sharing videos and messages of Para athletes during this challenging time.


Bhutan athletes
Bhutan athletes attending a webinar amid lockdown.

Bhutan athletes make the most of webinars

Bhutan, apart from joining the webinar organised by the PCI, also attended another session on mental health and motivational training during COVID-19, organised by Nippon Sports Science University (NSSU), Japan.

The webinar helped athletes to stay motivated and determined to reach the Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year with positive attitude and aptitude during the pandemic. The webinars were attended by Bhutan Para Athletics team and representative from NPC Bhutan along with other international participants.

“These were very nice and educative sessions; a very good learning for a small nation like us. Paralympic is new to Bhutan. We don’t have the expertise like India and Japan. During the webinars, we got ideas on how to help Para athletes. We learnt how these athletes have to come through proper rehab, otherwise normally we just invite people who are interested in sports because we don’t have proper rehab and structure,” said coach Penjor Gyeltshen, Bhutan Paralympic Committee.