It was great to see the involvement of Para athletes and key figures of the French Paralympic Movement in the Paris bid
The President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Andrew Parsons made on Friday, 10 November, his first official visit to Paris since the French capital was announced the host city of the 2024 Paralympic Games. Parsons was greeted by an official welcome from French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
Together with the IPC President and the IPC Chief Executive Officer Xavier Gonzalez, Prime Minister Philippe took the opportunity to make his first public address in relation to Paris 2024 and the impact the 2024 Paralympics will have on French society.
Parsons then visited Saint-Denis, where he joined local children in a range of Paralympic sports, including boccia and wheelchair basketball. The delegation continued on to Cité du Cinéma, the site of the future Olympic and Paralympic Athletes' Village, and the Eiffel Tower, where they visited a range of existing Paralympic venues, including the Champ de Mars (football 5-a-side), Les Invalides (Para archery) and Roland-Garros (wheelchair tennis).
The highest point of the visit saw the IPC President join Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo outside the Hotel de Ville, the headquarters of the municipality of Paris, where the pair revealed a sculpture of the Agitos, the Paralympic symbol. The structure will symbolise the Paris 2024 Paralympic Organising Committee and highlight the team’s dedication to inclusion in every aspect of planning.
The visit came after President Parsons met with Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet in Lausanne on Thursday (9 November) where the two discussed the city’s vision for an inclusive, diverse event in 2024, and what the City of Light can bring to the Paralympic movement.
Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said:
"I was really excited to visit Paris now confirmed as host city for the Games in 2024 and to get to know more about the vision of the city and the country for the Paralympics. It was great to see the involvement of Para athletes and key figures of the French Paralympic Movement in the Paris bid. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that a city has to change through the power of sport and we want to be partners of Paris in this journey."
Edouard Philippe, French Prime Minister, said:
"The 2024 Paralympic Games will be a real opportunity to promote sport participation for everyone with disabilities in France. With the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games we also want to show that society is rich in its diversity, rich in its differences. The 'passion of pushing the boundaries' is that which unites all sportsmen and women. In that, sport is a school of life, equality and fraternity."
Emmanuelle Assmann, President of the French Paralympic and Sports Committee (CPSF), said:
"The arrival of Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee, is a strong message for the French Paralympic movement and shows a complete unity between the organisation of the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024. The French Paralympic and Sports Committee is more united than ever alongside the Organising Committee to make those Games an exemplary event with a strong legacy which goes beyond the sporting dimension."
Tony Estanguet, President of Paris 2024, said:
"Our project is about making the Paralympic Games and the Olympic Games a shared event with a shared vision. The Paralympics in 2024 will have iconic sites and will offer a spectacular celebration for all athletes, but will also help to push the boundaries about disability in France. The Games must be an accelerator, which drives greater participation, increased accessibility, and a change in perception of people with impairment in France. These two days of work with the International Paralympic Committee and its president Andrew Parsons strengthens the partnership that binds us until 2024 and beyond."
Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, added:
"We hope that the organisation of the Paralympic Games will allow Paris to get as close as possible to universal accessibility. The Grand Paris Express already plans for all the new stations that will be opened to be accessible. With Andrew Parsons, we have identified another priority area: electric autonomous vehicles, which represent a significant step forward for people with impairments. In the coming weeks, I will start work on this subject with car manufacturers. My goal is for this technology to be fully deployed on the streets of the capital by 2024. It will be a strong part of the Paralympic legacy for the people."