Good morning everyone,
Over the next 40 minutes, I will walk you through the key achievements that the IPC has made since the 2015 IPC General Assembly and cover much of what was included in the IPC Biennial Report which was circulated to the IPC membership in August.
But before I start I want to inform you that on Monday I met with the family of the UAE athlete Abdullah Hayayei. All of you will recall Abdullah tragically lost his life in a training ground accident prior to the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships leaving behind a wife and five sons. During Monday’s meeting I presented the family with the IPC President’s Pin of Distinction.
Abdullah’s passing in July came just 10 months after Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad was killed in an accident on the penultimate day of competition at Rio 2016.
As a mark of respect to both Abdullah Hayayei, Bahman Golbarnezhad, and other members of the Paralympic family we have lost over the past two years, I would now like us to observe a moment of silence.
I have to be honest in saying that the death of both athletes, together with a number of high profile issues the IPC has faced since 2015, has made the last two years the hardest and most challenging of my 16 years as President.
At the same time, I believe the last two years have also been the most rewarding with the IPC and Paralympic Movement coming together and rising to the challenges in emphatic style.
By highlighting the IPC’s progress since 2015 in the six strategic areas of the IPC Strategic Plan, as well as the progress made by the 10 sports for which the IPC acts as international federation, I hope you will agree that we have made great strides together since the last General Assembly.
Strategic goal 1: Consolidate the Paralympic Games as a premier sporting event
I will try not to repeat what Tuesday’s presenters from the Organising Committees (OCOGs) went through but what I want to do is give you an IPC viewpoint on each Games edition.
South America’s first Paralympics were my eighth and final Games as IPC President and they are certainly the edition I am most proud of. The stunning teamwork of all involved in the Paralympic Movement ensured that, in the face of adversity, the Games were a great success.
To start I want to lay bare the facts about the problems we faced in Rio and address the questions I know some of you have regarding why the IPC and others did not notice the problems until very late.
From late 2015 onwards, both the IOC and IPC were asked to identify areas for cost savings by the Organising Committee who was suffering the consequences of Brazil’s financial crisis. Cost savings were made, however it was not until 18 July 2016, seven weeks before the Opening Ceremony, that we were informed by the OCOG about the true extent of their financial problems.
Low ticket sales, the non-delivery of promised investment from various parties - including central government - and a number of costly issues that cropped up in the early part of the Olympics made Rio’s financial situation worse. Drastic action needed to be taken to save the Games.
Our priority at the time was not to focus on who was to blame, but to concentrate our efforts on finding the best solutions. It’s in our Paralympic DNA to see obstacles as an opportunity to do things differently and that’s what we did in Rio.
Without the work and support of IPC Vice President Andrew Parsons and IPC CEO Xavi Gonzalez I am not sure the Games will have gone ahead. Andrew through his contacts in Brazil helped apply the necessary political pressure and find the much needed finances, while Xavi worked tirelessly with the OCOG to address the operational impacts.
I would also like to thank you the IPC membership for how you handled the situation. Rather than moan at the cuts, you just rolled up your sleeves and got on with ensuring we could deliver the best Games possible.
Thankfully the Games went ahead and arguably they did more for growing the Paralympic Movement than even London 2012, reaching record audiences around the world on TV and social media.
As this graph shows, a cumulative 4.1 billion people watched on television in more than 150 countries, far more than London 2012, while a further 1.6 billion engaged via digital media.
Rio 2016 will be remembered as the “People’s Games” with more than 2.15 million spectators filling the venues and creating a wonderful atmosphere which I hope we can experience at all future Games. More countries than ever before won at least one medal - underlying the growing strength of the Movement - and the Games were by far the best in terms of athletic performance which is testament to the work of each NPC and International Federation.
Stand-out performances amongst many included Iranian powerlifter Siamand Rahman lifting 310kg and Algerian Abdellatif Baka winning 1,500m T13 gold in a time faster than the Olympic champion. I was also pleased to see two refugee athletes – Ibrahim Al-Hussein and Sharad Nasajpour - representing the Independent Paralympic Athletes team.
Ultimately, the Rio 2016 Paralympics showed that no matter where or in what circumstances the Games are now held, they will always be a success. No longer can Beijing 2008 or London 2012 be seen as exceptions, but the norm, underlining the Paralympic Games’ position as the world’s number one sport event for driving social inclusion.
There are just 183 days to go until the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games and in terms of raising awareness and encouraging ticket sales there is not a moment to waste for the organisers.
As you heard on Tuesday, the OCOG has done a good job in establishing the infrastructure needed to stage the Games and this year’s Test Events provided a valuable learning experience for all involved.
The biggest challenge the OCOG faces is engaging the Korean public in the Games. Korea is traditionally not a nation interested in winter sports - Olympic or Paralympic – so trying to sell 280,000 tickets will be a difficult task. I must stress that the IOC is facing similar challenges and we are both working hard with national and local government, the OCOG and the KPC to develop initiatives that will increase public interest.
Jet Set Sports have been appointed by the IPC and POCOG as Global Authorised Ticket Reseller for NPCs, international federations the general public outside of South Korea, and international clients.
Domestically, the broadcast agreement is in place and will be announced shortly. Internationally, the IPC is currently finalising a number of TV contracts with broadcasters which is likely to result in more coverage than the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Overall, I am confident that despite the challenges we face, the Games will leave a strong legacy partly due to the Actualising the Dream project that has done much to develop Para winter sports around the world.
On Monday the IPC announced the medals event programme and athlete quotas for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games following a 10-month long exercise whereby each international federation was asked to propose their programme for the Games.
Finalising the programme was no easy task. All 22 Paralympic sports put forward strong cases for the events and athletes they wanted to be included. It is testament to the growth of the Paralympic Movement that the competition to secure medal events and athlete quotas is now just as strong as the competition we now witness on the field of play.
In summary, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will involve 4,400 athletes who will compete in 537 medal events.
Key highlights include:
• At least 1,756 slots for female athletes, the most ever, which represents a 17 per cent increase in the number of women that took part in London 2012. This number is likely to increase further due to the allocation of 294 gender free slots.
• Badminton and taekwondo, the two sports that will make their Paralympic debut in Tokyo, have been awarded with 14 and 6 medal events respectively
• As part of the IPC’s drive to increase opportunities for athletes with high support needs, the sport of boccia has been allocated 116 athlete slots, 8 more than Rio 2016
• Compared to Rio 2016 14 sports will feature the same number of athletes. The sports of boccia, canoe, judo, shooting, table tennis, triathlon and wheelchair fencing all have additional slots
• Four sports – canoe, shooting, table tennis and wheelchair fencing – have more medal events than Rio 2016 while athletics and swimming have less events.
Overall, I am hugely impressed with how the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are shaping up. I was in Japan earlier this year and the level of interest around the country is like nothing I have witnessed before, so far out from a Paralympic Games.
The OCOG, commercial partners, politicians, the media, and the public are all committed to delivering great Games and I want to share with you comments Tokyo’s Governor Koike made last month to a leading group of journalists.
“The success of the Paralympics is really the key to the success of the overall Games here. I believe putting weight on hosting a successful Paralympics is more important than a successful Olympics.
"In Tokyo and Japan we have an ageing society, and it is clear there will be more and more people who will be requiring the use of wheelchairs or canes in coming years. Preparing for the Paralympics is preparing for Tokyo's ageing population. The challenge of an ageing city is a common theme all developed countries will be facing.
"In the case of Tokyo we take the Paralympics as an opportunity to prepare for these coming challenges and how to make the city fully accessible to people with disabilities or other special needs.”
To hear such commitment from a very influential politician is hugely encouraging and bodes well for the future.
Although everything is looking good in Tokyo, one challenge we face is making the proposals for improving universal design and accessibility a reality.
National and local government have some wonderful plans for improvements in this area, but convincing non-public authorities to follow suit is proving difficult.
For example there are very few hotel rooms in Tokyo which meet the IPC accessibility standards and we hope by staging the Paralympic Games we can work together to change this in the coming years.
As you heard on Tuesday preparations for the Beijing 2022 are progressing well and we are confident that they will take the Winter Paralympics to a new level.
The OCOG has been formed, featuring a number of key people from within the Paralympic Movement, the marketing programme launched and an agreement to deliver the fifth edition of the IPC Academy Excellence Programme has been signed.
Beijing 2022 is set to feature Para bobsleigh for the first time providing the sport meets certain criteria this winter season and both the IOC and Beijing 2022 give their full approval.
One of our immediate priorities with the OCOG is to ensure that the Paralympics move out from the shadows of the Olympic Games in their planning. The Olympic and Paralympic Games are two sport events that are brought together in one tremendous festival of sport, however at the moment our concern is that the OCOG is treating the Paralympics as just an add on to the Olympics.
By this time next week, I expect the IOC membership to have ratified a decision to award Paris the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Los Angeles the 2028 editions.
I welcome the IOC’s decision to award two Games at once as both cities presented excellent bids that will greatly benefit the Paralympic Movement.
Both cities have been in close liaison with the IPC throughout the last 18 months in order to develop and improve the Paralympic aspects of their respective bids and I think this shows with what both have put forward.
From the outset Paris 2024 has displayed a strong vision to stage the most successful Paralympic Games in history and use the event to serve as a catalyst for social transformation and the development of stronger foundations for Paralympic sport.
LA 2028 offers us something completely different; it provides us a perfect opportunity to make a long awaited breakthrough for the Paralympic Movement in the USA and enrich the lives of millions of US citizens through top class Para sport.
To finish this strategic area, I’d like to show you this video from Paris 2024 to whet your appetite for seven years’ time.
Strategic goal 2: Empower Para athletes and support the development of Para sports
Last month, the Agitos Foundation celebrated its fifth birthday and since its launch it has reached 380,000 people in 80 countries.
One very successful Agitos Foundation programme is the “Road to the Games” initiative which uses upcoming events as a platform to develop Para sport at all levels.
Over the last two years Road to the Games has been implemented in partnership with the OCOGs of Rio 2016, the Sao Paulo 2017 Youth Parapan American Games and PyeongChang 2018. An agreement with the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games will be signed shortly.
Launched in 2014, the “Road to Rio 2016: Agitos Foundations sessions” led to Latin American countries enjoying their best Paralympic Games in Rio last year.
Working with NPC Brazil and Rio 2016, 11 workshops grew the technical capacity of 357 coaches, classifiers and sport managers from 28 NPCs. More than EUR 520,000 was also invested into 20 development projects as part of the Grant Support Programme between 2013 and 2016.
From 2015 onwards, 19 NPCs participated in the Organisational Capacity Programme. This resulted in the development and staging of 45 national workshops which benefited more than 1,000 participants.
All this work delivered outstanding results.
There was a 32 per cent increase in the number of athletes from the Americas competing at Rio 2016 compared to London 2012, with 16 NPCs sending bigger delegations.
Six nations from the Americas finished in the top 40 of the medals table; in London only five nations made the top 50. Athletes from the Americas won 277 medals, 56 more than at London 2012.
One great legacy is that the Inter-American Development Bank has invested nearly EUR 600,000 to help the Agitos Foundation continue its work in the Americas. With the new funding, the Agitos Foundation aims to improve access to Para sport, provide sustainable pathways to more than 300 people with an impairment living in underserved communities, raise awareness of the Paralympic Movement and contribute to a more inclusive society in Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru.
Another successful initiative is the Grant Support Programme which helps the IPC membership with awareness campaigns, education, training, research and equipment in both summer and winter sports.
Next week the recipients of the 2017 Grant Support Programme will be announced and by the end of this month EUR 3.25 million will have been invested in the IPC membership via the programme.
Further details about some of the Grant Support Programme beneficiaries can be found in the Biennial Report but today I wanted to share with you an NPC Greece project funded in 2016 to help refugees discover Para sport.
This February the Japanese version of I’mPOSSIBLE, a toolkit of educational resources designed to engage 6-12 year olds in the Paralympic Movement, was launched in Tokyo.
It will form part of the Tokyo 2020 education programme and, with the support of a number of delivery partners will be rolled out across Japan.
Since February, a Spanish version has been launched in Colombia whilst the toolkit is also being used in schools in Armenia.
An I’mPOSSIBLE website, which will host all of the resources for free download, will go live later this year and shortly afterwards the education programme will be launched internationally.
At Rio 2016, the IPC relaunched Proud Paralympian, its dedicated education programme for athletes. Revised by the Agitos Foundation with the help of recruitment and careers provider Adecco, and support from IFs and NPCs, Proud Paralympian is designed to help athletes realise their potential both on and off the field of play. It offers advice, guidance and materials on a host of subjects including careers, sporting ethics, engaging with the media and fans, and the history and values of the Paralympic Movement.
Following Rio, a number of Paralympians were trained as programme leaders and workshops have been delivered at the Sao Paulo 2017 Youth Parapan America Games, the Nottwil 2017 World Para Athletics Junior Championships and a Badminton World Federation training camp in Lima.
As a follow up, the Agitos Foundation will support the Americas Paralympic Committee to trial an athlete leadership workshop for the Americas region while a number of Proud Paralympian workshops are planned at major events between now and the end of the year.
Further Proud Paralympian leader training is also planned to increase the pool of leaders in order to meet the global demands and languages of athletes participating in the programme.
To showcase the programme to athlete leaders from across the Movement, Proud Paralympian taster workshops took place at June’s IPC Athletes’ Forum held in Duisburg, Germany.
This was the first Forum of its kind and attracted 80 athletes from 22 sports and 35 NPCs. The four-day event provided a platform for athletes to discuss many of the issues facing them in the Paralympic Movement.
With the support of Worldwide Paralympic Partner Toyota, the Agitos Foundation is implementing a range of Para sport development activities which aim to improve the abilities and capacity of NPCs.
One of the training programmes being offered is the Organisational Capacity Programme which aims to strengthen the collaboration between NPCs, increase their professionalism and help them to improve in focus areas such as governance, marketing and athlete development. Ultimately the objective is to create sustainable pathways for Para athletes of all levels.
This year six central Asian and eight French speaking African NPCs started the programme which so far has benefitted more than 2,000 people from 61 countries. Countries taking part this year include Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in Asia and Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo in Africa.
Other notable projects in the last two years have included the conclusion of the WoMentoring programme to develop female leaders in the Paralympic Movement and the signing of the Ostersund Declaration to develop Para winter sports.
Later this month, the eighth VISTA conference will take place in Toronto, Canada, bringing together approximately 300 experts from around the world. The theme is “Opportunities, challenges in Paralympics sport science and medicine support” and the programme will include a very strong line-up of keynote speakers. Among them will be Professor Vicky Goosey-Tolfrey who will receive the 2017 IPC Paralympic Scientific Award.
Following the approval and publication of the IPC Athlete Classification Code, a number of major steps have been taken regarding its implementation.
This January, the Classification Model Rules and a Model of Best Practice on National Athlete Classification were published. International Federations are invited to adopt these Model Rules as IF Classification Rules, whereas the Model of Best Practice on National Athlete Classification responds to demands from the nations on how to implement the Code at a national level.
To help athletes gain a greater understanding on the new Code, the IPC Classification Committee and the IPC Athletes’ Council collaborated to produce an Athlete Reference Guide.
In late March the IPC launched the IF Athlete Classification Compliance Survey inviting all IFs to conduct a self-audit of their classification programme in view of compliance with the 2015 Code.
The IPC’s zero-classification policy for the Rio 2016 Paralympics, which aimed to minimise the number of athletes needing to be classified during the pre-Games period, resulted in only 38 athletes having to be classified upon their arrival in Rio. This represented just 0.9 per cent of all athletes at the Games and compared favourably to 7.1 per cent for London 2012.
In PyeongChang we aim to have no athletes classified on-site at the Games.
Prior to Rio 2016, the IPC concluded investigations into potential cases of intentional misrepresentation and determined there was insufficient evidence to take any cases forward. In total the IPC reviewed over 80 individual athlete classifications from 24 countries across six sports.
There were nine cases where the IPC was not the international federation, and follow-up action was initiated with the responsible international federation.
In 2016 the IPC increased it budget for anti-doping activities, allowing for long-term sample storage, re-analysis of samples and increased out-of-competition tests.
By the end of the year, the IPC had conducted 2,171 tests, which consisted of in and out-competition tests of blood and urine, and were in addition to the tests conducted separately by other International Federations or National Anti-Doping Agencies.
Following Rio 2016, the IPC was widely commended by the World Anti-Doping Agency for running an effective doping control programme in line with International Standards for Testing and Investigations. Despite the challenging circumstances faced in Rio, the IPC was also praised for implementing a number of good practices that could serve as an example to other anti-doping organisations and major event organisers.
Yesterday afternoon we announced that the IPC Governing Board had decided to maintain the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC), with a further review due in November 2017 following the WADA Foundation Board meeting. However, it has put in place a limited interim measure for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events across four sports for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, subject to meeting certain published conditions.
The winter World Para Sports where Russian athletes meeting the pre-determined conditions will be allowed to compete as neutrals are alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboard. Under the sport rules for Para ice hockey, Russia has already missed the opportunity to qualify for PyeongChang 2018.
This limited interim measure is intended to preserve the ability of the RPC to enter its qualified athletes into the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games should it have its suspension lifted in time. We also hope this decision will further encourage the RPC and critically the Russian authorities to meet the remaining reinstatement criteria as soon as possible.
Full details of what conditions the RPC still has to do can be found on the IPC website however the two main hurdles to reinstatement are:
• The full reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and
• The provision of an official response specifically and adequately addressing the findings made by Professor McLaren.
I must stress this is a limited interim measure and we all hope the RPC and Russian authorities act sooner, rather than later on this matter.
To finish on this area, I would like to add that this measure will not have any impact on the allocation of slots to other NPCs.
Strategic goal 3: Improve the recognition and value of the Paralympic brand
In an effort to increase the recognition of Para sport, its main events and leading athletes 365 days a year, the IPC has worked hard with broadcasters over the last two years to ensure that they don’t just focus on the Paralympic Games but also the events in between.
As a result a number of World and regional Championships have benefitted from TV coverage and livestreams increasing the exposure of Para sport outside of the Paralympic Games.
For the PyeongChang 2018, Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games, the IPC has responsibility for international broadcast sales taking over the duty previously held by the Organising Committees. We have decided to do this in order to build long-term relationships with broadcasters and further interest in the events in between the Games.
In Japan, NHK has the broadcast rights for the Paralympics and many other events until 2024, while earlier Channel 4 signed a letter of intent to remain as Great Britain’s Paralympic broadcaster until 2020.
With PyeongChang 2018 fast approaching we are finalising a number of international broadcast agreements for various territories. These will be announced in the coming months while one will be made public later today.
The IPC’s digital channels continue to display impressive growth breaking multiple records and reaching billions of people around the world.
The IPC website attracted a record 7.7 million visitors in 2016, nearly three times as many as in 2015, and twice as many as in 2012, the last Paralympic summer year. This year the site, which will be redesigned and relaunched in 2018, is on course for just over three million visits, the most ever for a non-Paralympic year.
The IPC now has more than 50 digital media channels, including a Weibo account in China, and regularly posts in multiple languages. Across all platforms the IPC has more than 2.3 million followers on digital media, more than five times the number it had in 2015. Such figures helped the IPC move into the top 10 sport organisation in Sportcal’s Social Media Index 2017.
The growth has been helped by the IPC’s volunteer writer programme which now boasts more than 40 writers around the world. For the last four years in an effort to support non-IPC sports, the IPC has created year-long editorial plans that have been agreed with each international federation and are designed to raise the profile of leading athletes and competitions in each Paralympic sport.
At least one story is produced each month for all sports which is then utilised by the IPC, the International Federation and the NPC. More than 4,500 stories have been produced since the last General Assembly.
Such has been the success of the volunteer programme that some IFs paid for their volunteer writer to cover their sport at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
With funding from the Americas Paralympic Committee, one member of the IPC media team is committed to creating content about athletes from the continent as 50 per cent of his role. This has led to a significant increase in support to Latin Americas countries.
In addition to the volunteer writer programme, the IPC now also supports international federations in digital media by offering advice, creating content plans and by recruiting social media volunteers.
The support is already paying dividends. Two weeks ago, the IPC supported the Organising Committee of the IBSA Football 5-a-side European Championships in Berlin by sharing the livestream of the event across the IPC’s digital channels, as well as partner websites.
The clash between England and Germany was viewed by 1.5 million people on Facebook, while on YouTube there were more than 110,000 views of the action during the tournament, equating to more than three quarters of a million minutes watched.
To share best practice and discuss ideas for taking the Paralympic Movement forward, an IPC Marketing and Media Summit was held this July to coincide with the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.
More than 100 representatives of NPCs, broadcasters, commercial partners and Organising Committees attended and there were a number of guests speakers from both inside and outside the Paralympic Movement.
Finally, in December 2016, the IPC’s media and communications team was recognised as the best in-house PR team in Europe at an awards ceremony in Berlin beating off competition from some of the world’s biggest organisations including Adidas, Deutsche Telekom, the World Economic Forum and Schroders. Craig Spence, the IPC’s Director of Media and Communications was awarded the European PR Professional of the Year.
Strategic goal 4: Build sustainable funding
As Ulf Herzer, the IPC’s Finance Director, will be presenting on this area shortly I will not go into too much detail.
What I will say is that the IPC’s revenues and expenditure have grown dramatically in recent years and continue to be managed prudently under the watchful eye of the IPC Finance and Audit Committee.
In 2016 the IPC’s revenues were close to EUR 20 million, nearly twice as much as they were in 2012, and five times what they were in 2007. At the same time expenditure has also increased to EUR 20 million and we continue to operate a balanced budget by ensuring we provide more support to the IPC membership than ever before.
Strategic goal 5: Shape Organisational Capability
Following the ratification of new members earlier today, the IPC now has 202 members. This is made up of 177 NPCs, 17 International Federations, 4 Regional Organisations and 4 International Organisations of Sport for the Disabled.
The IPC also recognises 13 International Federations.
In 2016 the IPC’s financial support provided to International Federations increased by EUR 100,000 to EUR 450,000 while the amount provided to each Regional Organisation doubled from EUR 10,000 to EUR 20,000.
Since the last General Assembly, our workforce in Bonn has grown from a team of 78 people to a group of 100 people representing 28 different nationalities. We employed our 100th member of staff last Friday and I am pleased to say he is a former football 7 player who represented Great Britain at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Of the 100, 52 are women and seven have an impairment. Sixty-seven of the staff work for IPC core departments and 23 for World Para sports, while the Agitos Foundation now employs 10 people.
Recently, the IPC’s work was recognised by the 2017 Lui Che Woo Prize for World Civilisation in the positive energy category.
Established in 2016 by Dr. Lui Che Woo, the awards recognise and honour outstanding achievements of individuals or organisations in the promotion of world civilisation. Amongst the judging panel for the award was Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the former US Secretary of State, and Dr. James Wolfensohn, the former head of the World Bank.
The sizeable cash prize that comes with the award will now be invested into the IPC and the Agitos Foundation to further develop Para sport around the world.
Elections for the IPC Athletes’ Council took place during Rio 2016 and this April former Canadian swimmer Chelsey Gotell took over from Todd Nicholson as Chairperson of the Council. Last week we launched the nominees process for winter athletes who will be elected during PyeongChang 2018 and encourage you all to put your athletes forward.
This August, the IPC published a new four-year-long Strategic Plan detailing how it plans to develop the four summer World Para Sport for which it acts as international federation – namely Para athletics, Para powerlifting, shooting Para sport and Para swimming.
The Plan was developed in close consultation with the community of each sport, as well as internal and external stakeholders. In addition to the six strategic goals identified in the plan, all four World Para Sports have developed their own strategic objectives and key measures which will help them to track performance and deliverables between now and 2020.
The Strategic Plans for the winter World Para Sports will be published next year and work is already well underway.
The IPC Governing Board has met five times since the 2015 IPC General Assembly and I have to say that over the last two years, the Board has been involved in taking some of the biggest decisions to face