IPC President Sir Philip Craven, the Lord Mayor of Bonn, Bärbel Dieckmann, Parlamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of the Interior Dr. Christoph Bergner, and IPC Chief Executive Officer Xavier Gonzalez were among the 100 guests and speakers to celebrate the beginning of the New Year 2009.
German athletes also were in attendance, representing the Federal Republic and offering their own support and anticipation for the various events in 2009. The athletes included Edina Mueller and Annika Zeyen, who were on the silver medal winning Wheelchair Basketball Team in Beijing in 2008, Andrea Eskau, who won the gold medal in Beijing for Cycling, and Holger Nikelis, who won the gold medal in Athens 2004 for Table Tennis.
In his welcoming speech, IPC President Sir Philip Craven looked back at the past year, highlighting the incredibly successful and inspiring Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
“Standards that had been set and re-set, were raised above and beyond what we could have imagined after the Beijing 2008 Paralympics. The Paralympic Movement took on a whole new role in China, selling a record 1.82 million tickets to spectators who had before not known about Paralympic Sport. More than 3.8 billion people around the world watched athletes compete, totalling an unprecedented 1,800 hours broadcasted”, stated Sir Philip.
Looking ahead, he emphasized the significant annual partnership between the City of Bonn and the IPC for 2009. The partnership comes at a year where the IPC has two major milestones to celebrate, namely the 10-year anniversary of the Headquarters in Bonn, and the 20-year anniversary of the organization.
A video from the Beijing Games which highlighted the events in China enriched the evening and inspired the guests. Following the presentation, the celebration became a more social gathering inside the Old City Hall. Sponsors and athletes alike had the opportunity to meet one another, and exchange stories from Beijing, as well as plan for a prosperous future.