The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletes’ Council is to launch a consultation exercise with Para athletes from across the world.
The Council wants to understand how athletes could express their views on key subjects on the Paralympic Games.
The IPC Athletes Council are going to host some focus groups. These will start this month. The plan is for athletes to have a better understanding about the current rules, and what is and isn’t allowed by athletes. The Council would like ideas from Para athletes about how they could make their voices heard at the Paralympic Games.
Under current IPC rules for the Paralympic Games, Para athletes are free to share their views on any subject they wish on their own social media channels and when speaking to media. However, they are not allowed to use the field of play or podium to protest.
Chelsey Gotell, Chairperson of the IPC Athletes’ Council, said: “With the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games still more than 12 months away, time is on our side and, from an athlete viewpoint, we do not need to ask the IPC to adapt any rules at this stage.
“What is important right now is to use the time we have available to listen to Para athletes about their experiences and how it has affected their lives. We want to better understand the subjects Para athletes feel passionately about and gather views on how they believe they could best be communicated at the Games. At the same time, we must also provide Para athletes with a greater understanding of the current rules so they can give well-rounded and better informed feedback during the consultation.
“By supporting this consultation exercise, the IPC is showing a willingness and openness to listen first-hand to Para athletes on a subject that is a critical and complex topic.
“Many of the protest and demonstrations around the world in recent years, whether they be about race or gender equality, are based on the fight against discrimination, a daily fight that all persons with disabilities are familiar with as they are part of the world’s largest marginalised group.
“At the same time as the IPC Athletes’ Council feel it is important that Para athletes can speak up at the Games, it is also vitally important for Para athletes to have the right to not speak up and be protected in doing so.”
IPC President Andrew Parsons added: “As an athlete-centred organisation that has inclusion at its core, we want to use this athlete consultation exercise to listen and learn. Once we have gathered all views, we can then shape what changes may be needed for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“The IPC is fully committed to ending unlawful discrimination for every single person on this planet. As an organisation, we work hard particularly to end the stigma that is attached to disability while also pursuing greater equality in areas such as race, gender and sexuality. This is no small task.
“The Paralympic Games are about amazing sport and achievements that trigger societal change. We look forward to being part of the solution.”
All discussions and key points from all the Para athlete focus groups will be published on the IPC Athletes’ Council’s digital media channels.
If you are a British athlete that has competed at the Paralympic Games and are interested in being part of the IPC Athlete Council discussions we would like to hear from you. You will need to be Virtus (Inas) classified as a T/F20 (athletics), S/SB14 (swimming) or T11 (table tennis). You can contact UKSA by telephone 0207 490 3057 or by emailing