"These Games are vital to the growth of the Paralympic Movement, not just here in the Americas, but the whole world."
The next four years are key to growing awareness and visibility of the Paralympic Movement in the Americas with the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games playing a significant role, according to Octavio Londono, President of the Americas Paralympic Committee (APC).
Speaking at a reception on Wednesday evening (13 February), organised by the Honourable David C Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario to mark an International Paralympic Committee (IPC) co-ordination commission visit of Toronto 2015, Londono said he was delighted at the Organising Committee’s enthusiasm to deliver the best Parapan American Games ever. He also stressed how important it was for Toronto 2015 to build on the success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
“These Games are vital to the growth of the Paralympic Movement, not just here in the Americas, but the whole world,” said Londono.
“Last year’s London 2012 Paralympic Games were an outstanding success, breaking multiple records and surpassing all expectations.
“Although they were a huge success there was room for improvement, there always is, especially here in the Americas where TV and media coverage in some countries was regrettably limited.”
Londono hopes that with South America staging its first Paralympics in 2016, there will be an uplift in the amount of media and TV coverage para-sport receives in the Americas. He also highlighted that Canada and Toronto are key to increasing the visibility of the Paralympic Movement between now and 2016.
Octavio Londono said: “As a country Canada has a major role to play hosting a number of major para-sport events starting with August’s IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal.
“As a city Toronto has the biggest role to play between now and Rio 2016.
“If together we can deliver the biggest and best Parapan American Games in terms of sport, participation, accessibility, inclusion, crowds and media coverage, then we can head into Rio 2016 with significant momentum.
“With this momentum, our aim is do for the Americas what London 2012 did for Great Britain and Europe.”
The Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games get underway on 7 August 2015 and will be the biggest to date. They will involve 1,500 athletes from 28 National Paralympic Committees who will compete in 15 sports which will also serve as qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The first Parapan American Games were held in 1998 in Mexico City and featured 1,000 athletes from 18 countries competing in four sports. They were last staged in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011 and featured 13 sports and 1,310 athletes. In 2015, Toronto will be the first Canadian city to stage the event.