Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games on course to be best ever
The TORONTO 2015 Parapan American Games are on course to be the best yet according to International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven after a day-long visit to Toronto on Wednesday (14 August) where he met with Games organisers.
In less than two years, more than 1,500 athletes from 28 countries will be in Toronto and the surrounding region for the final major multi-sport competition ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, and after reviewing the Games' plans, the most powerful man in the Paralympic Movement said he was impressed with what he saw.
"I'm greatly encouraged with the way TO2015 is going about this mammoth project and leave fully confident that they will deliver the best Parapan American Games to date," said Sir Philip, who was part of Great Britain's wheelchair basketball team that took part in the Toronto 1976 Paralympic Games.
"The Organising Committee is fully integrated at all levels, paying equal attention to both the Pan and Parapan Games, which is vitally important. This is shown across all its activities and underlined by the fact that Pachi, the Games' mascot, has a visual impairment. Like most porcupines, he can't see people or objects that are far away which would make him a T11-T13 if he was competing in track and field, or S11-S13 if he was a swimmer.
"Between now and 7 August 2015, when the Games get underway, the Organising Committee should not take its foot off the gas. There is a passion and superb team ethic to deliver a great event and, like them, I am counting down the days until the event begins."
Sir Philip believes the next three years in the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games are the most important yet for raising awareness of the Paralympic Movement in the Americas, and said Toronto and Canada both have huge roles to play.
"Last year, London staged the best Paralympic Games ever, attracting almost 2.8 million spectators and a cumulated worldwide TV audience of 3.8 billion," he said. "We want Rio to be even better and to do that we need to increase the profile of Paralympic sport on this continent not just in 2016 but in the years before.
"That is why the Parapans are so important for us here in 2015. We need to see an increase in the amount of TV coverage para-sport receives across the Americas, and the Parapans taking place in Canada-a nation with a proud history of supporting the Paralympic Movement-will help us achieve this."
The TORONTO 2015 Parapan American Games will feature 15 sports, all of which will be qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. At previous Parapan American Games, some countries have used the event as an opportunity to introduce new talent; however, it is likely that two years from now all teams will be at full strength.
"Some of the world's leading athletes had their big break at previous Parapan American Games and those watching in the venues and on TV in 2015 can expect to see some stunning performances," said Sir Philip.
"Ahead of Rio 2016, Brazil I am sure will send their top names, as will the USA, and Canada has already come out and said they want a top three finish. It all makes for thrilling sport in a superb city."
The TORONTO 2015 Parapan American Games will take place from 7-14 August 2015.
The first Parapan American Games were held in 1998 in Mexico City and featured 1,000 athletes from 18 countries competing in four sports. The most recent Parapan Am Games were staged in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011 and featured 13 sports and 1,310 athletes.