President’s blog: Asia, the awaking giant in the Paralympic Movement
Date: December 6, 2023
Last week I witnessed for myself the growing power and development of the Paralympic family on the other side of my own Caspian Sea.
In Riyhadh, Saudi Arabia where I was able to address the General Assembly of the AsPC that realization was never more evident. The other regions need to waken up, even Europe so long at the vanguard of the Movement.
I had so many fruitful meetings which reinforced that feeling. The energy I feel in IBSA every day I felt replicated there.
I took part in the sensational opening of the Saudi Games which was more like that of an Olympic or Paralympic Games. I met with representatives of the Olympic and Paralympic Committee of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Federation for the Visually Impaired where we shared similar visions of what the future might be.
But what made the greatest impression on me was attending the final goalball game of the Saudi Games. The guys from the periphery of a country that is not very famous in the world of goalball showed such a real fighting spirit. And as often is the case when I watch our athletes it is not just pride I feel but such emotion as I see the triumph of the human spirit in action.
After the game I had a meeting with our athletes and coaches. I listened to their ambition, their hopes and yes even their criticisms. But for all that like the overall feeling in Riyhadh those days, they know that IBSA is now working hard to change because it has underperformed for too long and must change to meet its obligation and responsibility to the world’s blind and visually impaired people’s.
The AspC, its athletes, it’s nations, its sports are on the move! So is IBSA ! In the coming months you will see that these are not just my empty words – we have our part to play, to contribute to that amazing Asian story too.