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Tokyo Olympics: Bonn committee organizes the Paralympics

Tokyo Olympics : Bonn committee organizes the Paralympics

Since 1999, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), based on Bonn's Adenauerallee, has organized the Games for people with disabilities. One focus is on accessibility of the facilities.

The Olympics are over, but the next world event is already around the corner. More than 4,400 athletes will take part in the Paralympics in Tokyo from August 24 to September 5, and around 4.25 billion people will follow the competitions live on TV. This makes the games for people with disabilities the third largest sporting event in the world. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has been based in Adenauerallee since 1999. Since it was founded in 1989 in Düsseldorf, the association with its 150 employees has represented international disabled sports and organized the summer and winter Paralympics. At that time, Bonn had applied to host the IPC and prevailed over cities such as Paris, Madrid and Colorado Springs, among others.

Since then, the association has grown steadily. What was once a permanent staff of five has now grown to 150 employees from 42 nations. The venerable building opposite the Chancellor's Office has long since become too small, so in 2022 the IPC will move to the former NRW state representation on the Rhine. "We are proud to have been able to call Bonn our home for more than 20 years, and we thank the city, the state of NRW and the German government for their great support," says IPC President Andrew Parsons.

However, the company's goal is not only to organize Paralympic sports. "People with disabilities are discriminated against and excluded from social life every day all over the world. We want to use sport to do something about this discrimination," says press spokesman Craig Spence.

The IPC is therefore involved in the entire bidding process for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and supports the host cities in their preparations for the Paralympics. The main focus is on barrier-free access to sports venues, but also to local transport, hotels or public buildings.

1.2 billion people have a disability

Around 1.2 billion people worldwide are affected by a disability, which is 15 percent of the world's population. In addition, there are senior citizens, people temporarily restricted by injuries or operations, and parents with baby carriages, for whom seemingly small obstacles can become virtually insurmountable barriers. In a 320-page catalog, the IPC has listed all measures to ensure accessibility. In addition, the staff regularly visit the host cities to advise them on site. For Beijing 2008, for example, 14,000 buildings and facilities had to be redesigned.

The IPC can also look back on major successes at other levels. China, for example, enacted accessibility laws for the first time for the 2008 Games. After London 2012, a third of all Britons said in a survey that they had changed their attitude toward people with disabilities. This was also fundamentally reflected in society: six years after the Olympics in the British capital, one million more disabled people had a job in England than before.

The reason for this positive development is also the extensive coverage on television. In the U.S., for example, NBC, one of the country's largest networks, will show more than 1,200 hours of coverage of the Paralympics. In England, Channel 4 will broadcast about 500 hours. The channel is fully committed to inclusion: three-quarters of the reporting TV commentators have a disability themselves.

(Original text: Tobias Schild / Translation: Mareike Graepel)