Parsons at Global Sports Week: ‘As we say at the IPC, Change Starts With Sport’

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons joined an all-star panel of speakers to highlight the Paralympic Movement’s role in society during the Global Sports Week (GSW) Paris conference that concluded on 5 February.

Broadcasted from its central hub at the Eifel Tower, the GSW was delivered digitally to almost 10,000 sports leaders, cultural change-makers, athletes, activists and emerging talents looking to ‘Shake, Shape and Share a new Future for Sport’ between business and society.

Joining one of the most-anticipated topics ‘Sports as a Catalyst for Social Justice’ with Parsons was, CONCACAF Head of Women’s Football and Canadian national team player Karina LeBlanc, and NBA Deputy Commissioner and COO Mark Tatum.

“Sport acting as a catalyst for social justice and social change is at the core of what we do at the Paralympic Movement,” Parsons said. “We have seen the change all around the world with the Paralympic Movement. How it has put a light to the fact that 15 per cent of the world’s population are people with disabilities; that is fundamental to understand, and we must bring that to the centre of inclusion in the agenda.”

Parsons also joined IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi, Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet, and LA28 Chief Revenue Officer Kathy Carter to discuss ‘The Future of Sport Events: Olympic and Paralympic Visions’.

“The Games come and go, but the Paralympic Movement stays on and we see that every edition of the Paralympic Games is an opportunity to go to the next level,” said Parsons on the importance of helping the Organising Committees understand the IPC’s vision.

GSW’s Young Sports Makers – a group of international talented under-25s – were part of each session to shape and shake up debates. They asked questions from how leaders will engage with the next generation and stay innovative. In response, Parsons spoke about the IPC’s global education programme I’mPOSSIBLE and last summer’s Netflix film ‘Rising Phoenix.’

“One thing, I have a strong opinion about when it comes to engaging with the younger audience, is that it’s not only about playing new sports,” Parsons continued, “Skating boarding, surfing and break dance are bringing a lot of younger audiences. But the traditional sports need to work on how they engage, communicate or provide experiences and give access to engage with their sports.”

“(Sports) also have a sense of purpose,” Parsons said. “The Games can be an agent for change in the city, the nation and the world. They are a platform – it’s an entertaining event to showcase ability but also a platform for change. As we say at the IPC, change starts with sport.”