IOC President impressed by Paralympic athletes

On the first day of sports competitions at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), took the opportunity to watch five different sports.

IOC President Thomas Bach award medals on day 1 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Yelyzaveta Mereshko (Ukraine) / © IOC

“It was fantastic to watch these athletes performing at the highest level. We saw passionate athletes showcasing their sports at their best,” the IOC President said. He watched the women’s wheelchair basketball match between China and Algeria and then went to the wheelchair rugby match between the USA and New Zealand. In the afternoon, he attended goalball, fencing and swimming.

At the swimming, he awarded the medals to the athletes of the women’s 50m freestyle final in the S6 category, and to those of the men’s 50m breaststroke in the SB3 category. Gold in the S6 was won by Yelyzaveta Mereshko (Ukraine), silver by Elizabeth Marks (USA) and bronze by Anna Hontar (Ukraine). The SB3 gold medallist was Roman Zhdanov (Russian Paralympic Committee), while silver went to Miguel Luque (Spain) and bronze to Takayuki Suzuki (Japan).

“These athletes are role models, and it is important to show our solidarity with the Para athletes competing in Tokyo for the next 12 days, and with the International Paralympic Committee,” President Bach added.

IOC President Thomas Bach © IOC

The day before, the IOC President attended the Opening Ceremony in the same stadium where, a few weeks ago, the Olympic athletes gathered for their competitions. The ceremony very much encouraged the world, once again, to come together in solidarity in these most difficult times.

“After memorable and historic Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games was another great celebration of unity in diversity, with the Paralympic athletes from around the world in the spotlight,” President Bach said. “It was the perfect stage-setting for 12 days of exciting sporting performances that will reinforce the universal values we share and need so much right now, and promote inclusion and peace around the world.”

The IOC President came to Tokyo as a guest of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Both organisations enjoy strong collaboration. President Bach’s visit was much appreciated and approved by the Government of Japan according to the rules of the state of emergency.

Olympic museum © IOC

As part of the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms, the IOC has strengthened its commitment to inclusivity by signing a long-term agreement with the IPC, taking the partnership to a new level until at least 2032. This cooperation ensures the organisation of the Paralympic Games and gives long-term financial stability to the IPC as the governing body of Paralympic sport. As part of the agreement, the IOC will continue to make it a requirement for any host of the Olympic Games to also organise the Paralympic Games. The IOC and the IPC are working together to enhance the Paralympic brand and increase the visibility of the Paralympic Games.

President Bach also met with IPC President Andrew Parsons and congratulated him on the WeThe15 campaign, which was launched ahead of the Paralympic Games and aims to end discrimination against the 1.2 billion people with disabilities in the world. He presented the IPC President with a picture of The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, lit up in purple, as a gift. The venue was one of the more than 125+ landmarks around the globe that was lit up to launch the campaign.

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