Paris 2024

Paralympic Games

28 August - 8 September

Q&A with IPC President: Paris 2024 will be revolutionary

“The exchange between athletes, Parisians and spectators from around the world is going to be something electrifying” 28 Aug 2023
IPC President Andrew Parsons speak in front of a screen showing the Opening Ceremony of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games
IPC President Andrew Parsons says the Paris 2024 will be the "most spectacular Games in history".
ⒸYonathan Kellerman/IPC

In one year, the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games will begin with the first Opening Ceremony to be held outside of a stadium and the Athletes’ Parade staged on the most famous avenue in France.

France’s first summer Paralympic Games will take place between 28 August and 8 September 2024, featuring 549 medal events across 22 Para sports. About 4,400 athletes from around the world will showcase the best of Para sports in the City of Light. There will be amazing sporting feats, new records and moments that will be remembered forever, taking place at iconic venues like the Château de Versailles and the famous red-clay courts at Roland-Garros. 

We spoke to International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons about these historic Games and the transformative power of the Paralympic Movement. 

Parsons celebrated the one-year-to-go milestone in Paris with athletes and officials. @Paris 2024 – Tomas Stevens

IPC: We have one year to go until the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. What does this mean to you to reach this milestone? 

Andrew Parsons: I’m very excited because now we are entering the last lap of preparation. We are moving in a very important phase because the Paris 2024 Organising Committee is not planning anymore, but implementing what has been planned for years. It’s good to see everything coming to action. 

We have the Paralympic ticket sales launch on 9 October. It’s also important to promote it and sell it because we want these Games to be seen by every human being in the world. 

IPC: How do you see the excitement building in Paris? 

AP: I was in Paris a few weeks ago so I saw first-hand the excitement from different levels of government in the different sporting bodies, but also in the population of Paris. I have seen the momentum rising and people excited about the Games. But this is not only in Paris and not only in France. Every country I go to, people express their excitement about the Games. After two Games with no spectators, everyone wants to attend the Games. I’m being asked, “I’m going to Paris and want tickets so when can I buy the tickets?” 

IPC: What can we look forward to at Paris 2024? 

AP: These Games will be the most spectacular Paralympic Games in history. There are three main reasons. First, Paralympic sport is better than ever before. I have been at a number of events this year, including the European Para Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and you see the level of the sport growing.

The second reason is that we will have the crowds back. We are very ambitious about spectators, and we want to sell every one of the 2.8 million tickets and break the record that is still London 2012. We want Paris to be number one in terms of ticket sales. 

And you can’t forget the atmosphere of the Games. We have great sport, we have great crowds, and we will have incredible venues in an incredible city. To have venues like blind football in front of the Eiffel Tower and to have Paralympic champions at Roland Garros, these are some of the most iconic places in the history of mankind. To have venues right beside these iconic landmarks, it provides a perfect atmosphere to spectacular sports.

The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games will take place between 28 August and 8 September. @Paris 2024

IPC: Paris 2024 will see many historic firsts. How do you think the Games will be different from past editions? 

AP: There is a unique French identity to the Games, and it goes a lot to the spirit of being revolutionary. I think these Games are revolutionary. 

The best example of that is the Opening Ceremony outside of the stadium. It will be a first for the Paralympics and the Olympics as well. Paralympic athletes will be in the most famous avenue in the world – the Champs Elysees – interacting directly with Parisians. It’s like the city is giving them a gigantic hug, welcoming the Paralympic Movement to the heart of Paris, to the very core of the city and of the country. It's an incredible first act to what will be an incredible, spectacular Paralympic Games. I can’t wait to be in that Opening Ceremony because it’s going to be not only different, not only revolutionary, but the exchange between athletes, Parisians and spectators from around the world is going to be something electrifying. 

The Paris 2024 Opening Ceremony will be "revolutionary", as it will be held outside of a stadium for the first time in Paralympic history. @Paris 2024

IPC: As you said, Paris 2024 will see spectators return to the venues after Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 were held without fans. What does this mean for the athletes and the Paralympic Movement? 

AP: Everything we do is about athlete experience. The better the experience we can provide to the athletes, the better the Games will be. We are giving them what they really want, which is to perform in front of crowds.

We cannot forget the other aspiration that we have – our vision, which is to make for a more inclusive world through Para sport. When you have 2.8 million people in the stands, the lives of those in the stands are also being changed.

Because we are making tickets affordable as part of our ticketing strategy, families and group of friends can come and enjoy the Games. They can come to more than one session and experience different sports. This adds to a huge impact on how these 2.8 million people perceive persons with disability.

IPC: Paris 2024 will be the first time all 22 Paralympic sports will be broadcast live. What impact can we expect from this?

AP: This is a great development. Being able to give the opportunity for every sport on the programme to show its best to the whole world is an incredible opportunity. I am happy that we finally achieved that. Last time, at Tokyo 2020, there were three sports that were not broadcast live. But those three sports – wheelchair fencing, Para taekwondo, and Para powerlifting – were amazing. This is a great opportunity for the development of the sport.

Thousands of people gathered at the Place de la Bastille in Paris on 8 October 2023 as the French capital hosted a historic Paralympic Day. @Paris 2024

IPC: Now let’s discuss the preparation for the Games. How do you see the progress? What are some challenges going forward?

AP: Everything is coming together very well, but not without challenges. Organising a Games always has its own challenges, but we are working very well with the Paris 2024 Organising Committee and the French authorities.

I think the preparation is going very well but the challenge now is the fine-tuning and the promotion of the Games. I wouldn’t call them challenges, but the focus point. We will also learn from the test events. Going forward, it is important to work on those learnings from the test events, to strengthen the communication with the National Paralympic Committees, and of course, promote the Games and focus on ticket sales.

Paralympic tickets will go on sale on 9 October 2023. @Paris 2024

IPC: You have mentioned the transformational power of the Paralympics. How have you seen this throughout your time in the Movement?

AP: It’s easier to give examples when we talk about host nations. In Japan with Tokyo 2020, it was incredible to follow – I was lucky enough to see from the bid phase of Tokyo until one year after the Games. The change in perception toward persons with disability was almost palpable and you could almost feel it in the air. It is amazing because you can start changing society by changing the mindset of people.

But the challenge for us is how we can impact the world with an event that of course happens in one city. That is a challenge every sport Movement faces, and I think that is our challenge – how to maximise that change around the world. I believe that Paris is very well positioned to make an important step forward in that direction.

IPC: What do you believe the legacy of the Paris 2024 Games will be? 

AP: There will be an incredible legacy in France and in Paris. The French government and the City of Paris are implementing a series of programmes and initiatives, such as investing 1.5 billion euros in making the public spaces in France more accessible and 125 million euros in making the transport system in Paris more accessible. So, there is a whole range of things that will change forever. This is not only limited to the quality of life of the 12 million persons with disability in France, but how the remaining part of the French population see persons with disability.

We are also making sure that the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic Movement are the platform to change the world to include 1.2 billion persons with disability into different societies around the world. I think Paris will be the Games where we will see that more clearly. This is a very important step for our Movement because I believe that the future of sports is in the intersection between entertainment and purpose.

"We want these Games to be seen by every human being in the world," Parsons said. @Paris 2024

IPC: Lastly, can you share a message to Para athletes who are preparing to take the start line next year?

AP: We are putting in our ultimate effort to make sure that the Paralympic Games in Paris 2024 will be the most spectacular Games ever. And this is for you. This is for whoever qualifies for the Games to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an experience that they will never forget, an experience to show to the world what they can do in the field of play. 

So enjoy the ride and the qualification process. If you qualify, enjoy every moment in Paris. Paris will be a real affirmation of our Movement in the sense that people will understand that we are a super exciting sport event. We are a Movement that has changed the world. The world will understand this 100 per cent by seeing what you, athletes are doing in the field of play.