The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has paid tribute to Juan Palau Francas who died on Tuesday 26 April aged 81 years.
Widely regarded as the driving force behind establishing and growing the Paralympic Movement in his home country of Spain, Juan Palau was President of the Spanish Sports Federation for Persons with Physical Disabilities (FEDDF) and Vice-President of the Spanish Paralympic Committee.
He was also the former President of the International Sports Organization for the Disabled (ISOD) and was the ISOD Representative on the IPC Executive Committee from 1993 to 2005.
In 2006 he received the IPC’s Paralympic Order, the highest accolade a person connected with the Paralympic Movement can achieve.
Sir Philip Craven, the IPC’s President, said: “I am personally saddened to hear of the passing of one of the most active and committed people the Paralympic Movement has ever seen.
“On behalf of the whole Movement I would like to pass on my deepest condolences to his family.
“Juan Palau was a great man and a superb pioneer for sport both in Spain and abroad. For well over 50 years he dedicated his life to the Movement and his untimely passing will be a big loss.
“He does however leave a significant and immeasurable legacy not only in his native Spain, which staged a hugely successful Paralympic Games in 1992, but around the world which we are all eternally grateful for.”
Born in Ripoll (Girona), Juan Palau was one of the protagonists of Paralympic Sport in Spain. In 1968, together with former International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch, he founded the Spanish Federation of Sports for the Disabled, becoming its Vice President in 1971 and later its President in 1998 when it was known as FEDDF.
From its creation in 1995, Juan Palau served on the Executive Committee of the Spanish Paralympic Committee and in 2001 moved into one of two Vice Chair roles.
Internationally in addition to his role at ISOD he was also a Member at Large of the Executive Committee of International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS).