The Future of the Paralympic Games
Paris and Los Angeles were awarded the 2024 and 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games, respectively, for the first time. We find out more about the impact on these cities, and how they are preparing for this world-class event.
PARIS 2024: Committed to change
When the Games come to Paris, France, in 2024, one item is high on the list.
“Changing the perception of impairment ranks among the top priorities of Paris 2024,” said Emmanuelle Assmann, President of NPC France.
“This victory is more important than ever. It means increased legitimacy, visibility, opportunity as well as responsibility for Paralympic sport in France.”
The news of Paris 2024 was a special moment for Assmann, who won team epee bronze at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.
“When I heard Paris announced as host city of the 2024 Games, I was delighted, it was very emotional,” Assmann said. “We worked so hard for this moment and we succeeded, thanks to a clear vision and a strong plan that placed strong emphasis on the Paralympic Games. Now that the dream has come true, a huge but exciting challenge lies ahead!”
Paralympic and world champion sprinter Marie-Amelie le Fur is clear about what she wants the Paris 2024 Paralympics to accomplish.
“We want the Paralympic Movement to receive the same celebration as the Olympics, and leave unforgettable memories for athletes and spectators,” Le Fur said. “We want a lasting legacy for the Paralympic Movement: an avantgarde and winning France!”
France hosted the 1992 Winter Games in Tignes-Albertville, which was the first time both the Olympics and Paralympics shared a host city for the winter edition following an agreement between the IOC and IPC.
Paris hosted the Olympics in 1900 and 1924, but 2024 will be its first summer Paralympics. Assmann said work is already being done to change people’s perception on impairments at home.
The Olympic and Paralympic school week debuted in 2017 and introduced two million children to the practice of Paralympic sport.
“We will keep targeting this key demographic, which is the future of our country,” she said. “Our communication campaign over the next seven years in France and abroad will also aim to demystify Paralympic sport and showcase the thrilling performances of our Para athletes.”
As for the Games plans themselves, Assmann knows another priority is ensuring a good athlete and spectator experience that will last forever.
“We have committed to providing fully accessible Games in 2024, both at the competition venues and the live sites,” she said. “This is particularly important for our existing venues which will be upgraded to accommodate all spectators. Furthermore, all new metro lines (already under construction) will be accessible too. In terms of infrastructure, the Games can help us gain 20 years and make accessibility the ‘new normal’ for public spaces.”
Le Fur serves as Co-Chair of the Paris 2024 Athletes Committee. From an athlete’s perspective, she said the key to hosting a successful Paralympic Games is “work and pleasure.”
“Without work one cannot progress, without pleasure one cannot succeed,” she said. “Pleasure in the realisation, pleasure in the celebration, pleasure in the collective ... it is essential.”
LOS ANGELES 2028: “Perfect match” for Paralympics
The Olympic Games are returning to Los Angeles, USA, for the third time after 1932 and 1984. But like Paris, it will be the city’s first Paralympics. For Rick Adams, the USOC’s Chief of Paralympic Sport and National Governing Body Organisational Development, the 2018 Games will be a “celebration of how much the Paralympic Movement has grown.”
“The Paralympic Movement has been growing steadily in the United States, but there is nothing else like the opportunity to host the Games here on US soil that will energise this Movement and increase awareness in popular culture in the US,” Adams said.
He described LA as a city of creativity, innovation and progress – all a “perfect match for the Paralympic Games.”
“LA is the best city in the world to host a truly modern and technically advanced Games, and it will be the first time we’ve hosted the Games since we entered this digital era,” Adams said. “When people in the US are able to witness the speed, skill and tenacity of the Paralympic athletes first-hand, it is going to transform this Movement for our country.”
LA 2028 will particularly be special for US Para athletes.
Multi-world and Paralympic long jump medal list Lex Gillette has competed at four Games. At Rio 2016 – dubbed the People’s Games – the Brazilian fans made their presence and support felt and heard. Gillette knows the “competitive advantage” and pride Brazilian Para athletes felt with the home crowd behind them and hopes it can be replicated for US Paralympians in LA.
“I’ve never experienced being able to compete in my home country,” said Gillette, who is on the LA 2028 Athletes’ Commission. “And I think that for an athlete aspiring to go to the Games, that in itself (competing at home) would really motivate them because you’re pushing for a particular goal and the idea that you may be able to achieve your goal in front of your home fans, that is huge.”
The Games take place 11 years from now, which Gillette says is plenty of time to strengthen the public’s awareness of the Paralympic Movement.
This can be done not only with more media exposure and sponsorship support, but also by Para athletes taking an active role in sharing their stories and promoting the Games.
Adams said 11 years will go by in the “blink of an eye.” While there will be a lot of work to do for the organising committee between now and then, the excitement and atmosphere that comes when LA 2028 arrives will be worth it all.
“I wouldn’t want to put any limits on the Paralympic Games with my own expectations,” Adams said. “But at the core of the Games, I think we can expect to see thrilling performances from athletes who will break limits that seem impossible now. We will see the Games embraced by the US and the people of LA with an excitement that we’ve never had in this country before. And I think we will see a Games that unite and inspire a generation around the world. And to have all of that with a backdrop of beautiful sunsets over the ocean doesn’t hurt either.”
This article was originally published by our partner The International Paralympic Association (IPC) in their publication ‘The Paralympian’.