International Paralympic Committee President hopes Oceania will establish multi-sport event after creation of EPC


International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons hopes Oceania will follow in the footsteps of Europe by creating a continental multi-sport event.

Parsons was here last week to see the inaugural edition of the European Para Championships (EPC) that features 10 Para sports across 13 days of competition.

EPC organisers hope the event will now take place every four years and be held in the year preceding the Paralympics.

It is the latest continental multi-sport event to be added to the Para sport calendar.

This year will see the Asian Para Games staged for the fourth time in October, followed by the seventh edition of the Parapan American Games in November.

Next month is also set to see the inaugural African Para Games, albeit with just four sports on the programme.

Parsons revealed that officials in Oceania are also considering creating an event that will combine Para sports but admits the region faces a series of challenges to establish such a competition.

“We are talking about two big countries [in Australia and New Zealand] and islands that geographically they are not as close as they are in the Caribbean” said Parsons.

“In the Caribbean it is less challenging to go from one island to another.

“You see a strong presence at the Parapan American Games from the Caribbean.

“In the Pacific it is a bit different but we would like to see something like that in the Oceania region for sure in the coming years.

“We know that the Oceania Paralympic Committee is looking for that and would like to have it and is working closely with us and with ONOC [Oceania National Olympic Committees] as well to see what is feasible and what is not.”

Parsons acknowledged that more work needed to be done to increase the number of National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) and participants in Para sports.

“The numbers are still low in Oceania,” said Parsons.

“Obviously we are not counting Australia and New Zealand but the number of athletes across different sport classes.

“We have classes in the Paralympic Movement which makes it a little bit challenging at the moment to stage a multi-sport event.

“The model needs to fit the region, there is no one-size-fits-all approach here.

“I think Europe is showing this with the Championships not Games which is a different concept.

2Oceania is not ready an Oceania Para Games – but maybe some Oceania Championships in some sports and then we may progress to Games in a few years’ time when we have more countries in Oceania.

“At the moment we only have nine NPCs.

“There are still some countries that have NOCs [National Olympic Committees] but don’t have NPCs, like Nauru and Palau.”

Parsons believes that bringing European Championships together for a standalone event can create a greater impact and play an important part in the pathway for athletes to reach the Paralympics.

“The regional Games are growing and growing and now you can see a country like Guatemala sending 20 athletes to a Parapan American Games,” added Parsons.

“You would not imagine that happening before the existence of the Parapan American Games.

“They would send one, two but because of the regional Games the different Governments recognise the importance as it is for the able-bodied side of it.

“For a lot of European athletes the first international multi-sport event they attend is the Paralympic Games.

“And then it’s too much, it’s too big.

“Everything is happening at the same time, it’s an overwhelming experience.

“”Being here helps to build up the pathway, create more opportunities.

“The Paralympic Games become less overwhelming,” he said.