Exactly one year out from the start of the 2011 IPC (International Paralympic Committee) Athletics World Championships to be held in Christchurch, the New Zealand Government has made a grant of $400,000 to support the event.
Announced by the Prime Minister, John Key, during an inspection of the QE II facilities yesterday, the event will be a great opportunity for athletes to showcase their potential and the first time it has been held outside Europe.
Fiona Pickering, CEO of Paralympics New Zealand, said that as well as the fantastic support from the Government and Christchurch City Council, she was delighted that the Prime Minister had accepted the position of Patron of the championships, which will run from 21-30 January 2011.
"With the Championships expected to have an economic impact in excess of $75 million for New Zealand and $12 million for Christchurch, the support we have received from both the New Zealand Government and the Christchurch City Council is critical in making this a truly world class event," she said.
In excess of 1,300 athletes from 70 countries plus 900 officials, coaches, managers and 150 international technical officials will be in attendance.
"Christchurch has a proven track record for hosting a wide array of successful international events and this event will further establish the city as an international sporting destination," she said.
Mayor of Christchurch Bob Parker said that it is a great privilege for Christchurch to be the first city outside Europe to host the event.
"We understand the importance on the world stage of not only hosting such an event, but ensuring that it becomes a great event. It is Christchurch’s ambition and determination to make this the greatest IPC Athletics World Championships ever held," he said.
Officials from UK Athletics have already visited the city, Australian athletes are currently training there, Canadian officials are visiting next week and teams from the United States, Brazil and France are visiting in the near future. Also as part of preparation for the Championships work has already started on building a new eight-lane, 400m training track as well as facilities for field events such as long jump, high jump and discus/shot put/javelin throwing positions.
Xavier Gonzalez, Chief Executive Officer of the IPC, who attended the one year out celebration, said that personally he found it a great challenge to pick between the two cities that were seeking to host the event, Barcelona and Christchurch.
"Barcelona is my home town so you can see my difficulty, but after just two days in the city I know we have made the right choice. Paralympic Sport is about breaking boundaries, opening up new frontiers, so it is appropriate that we move out of comforts of Europe and come down to this beautiful city. The legacy to be left here in Christchurch will bring increased participation from people with a disability into sport for the country. Additionally, the Paralympic Movement will leave a lasting impression in New Zealand for the entire world to see," he said.
Also participating in the inspection were the Minister of Economic Development, Gerry Brownlee, Helen Murphy, IPC Athletics Manager, Paralympics New Zealand Chairperson, Mark Copeland and Paralympians Kate Horan and Jessica Hamill.