International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven has described 2015 as “possibly the busiest year yet” for the Paralympic Movement.
In his annual New Year’s message, Sir Philip looked ahead to the year in sport, preparations for the next three Paralympic Games and reflected on the success of 2014, a year that marked the IPC’s silver jubilee.
“Although 2015 is not a Paralympic year, it will be one of the busiest to date, with multiple Worlds and regional Championships taking place, many of which will be qualifiers for Rio 2016,” said Sir Philip, who also highlighted that all Paralympic winter sports will stage their own World Championships between now and May.
“Arguably the biggest and most important sporting event of the year is August’s Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games which will feature 1,600 athletes from 28 countries competing in 15 sports.
“It is vital that Toronto 2015 is a success and that we leverage the event to generate greater awareness of the Paralympic Movement in the Americas ahead of Rio 2016.”
Sir Philip stressed that 2015 will be an important year in the final preparations for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games which will take place between 7-18 September 2016.
“1 January 2015 marks exactly 615 days to go until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and I can assure you that my excitement is growing by the day!” said Sir Philip.
“The Organising Committee has done a great deal of work in 2014, most recently highlighted by the successful launch of the Paralympic mascot Tom. I’m also delighted Rio 2016 has formed a Paralympic Integration Committee which is led by IPC Vice President Andrew Parsons.
“The last full year before the Paralympics is always vital and, in 2015, Rio will be staging a number of test events, as well as the Chef de Mission seminar, as their preparations gear up for the final push.
“People are a little more relaxed now they are seeing the venues grow in size each day and I am fully confident everything will be ready for our Games and that Rio will deliver a truly spectacular event. The atmosphere in Rio will be amazing; the Carioca like to party, and I hope Rio 2016 is one big party for the spectators and for the athletes (once they have competed of course!).”
In reflecting on 2014, Sir Philip touched on the success of the IPC’s silver jubilee celebrations, IPC Membership Gathering and the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games which were named on Wednesday (31 December) as the IPC’s Top Moment of 2014.
“The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games broke all ticket and TV viewing records and the blueprint that was created in terms of accessibility in Sochi is now being rolled out across Russia,” he said.
“The performances of the para-athletes in Sochi were mesmerising; they continue to astound not just myself with what they can achieve but millions of others around the world.
“The Gala Dinner to celebrate the IPC’s 25th anniversary was the perfect occasion for us all to reflect on our achievements so far. To see so many world leaders congratulating the IPC was testament to all the hard work and dedication of all those involved in the Paralympic Movement for the last quarter of a century.
“The Gathering provided a great opportunity for IPC members to come together and have their say on the key issues affecting the Paralympic Movement. There was a lot of fruitful and constructive dialogue and I know many of the points raised are covered in the IPC Strategic Plan 2015-2018 that will be published in the first quarter of 2015.”
Sir Philip’s New Year message in full can be found here.