All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak

All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak
All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak - © Jennifer Johnson 2008

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games - a foundation for destination development

Previous posts on the blog have examined the possible contribution of Olympic and Paralympic games to accessible tourism development. In particular, the recent Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games identified tourism and accessible tourism as one of five identified disability legacies (2010 Legacies Now, 2010a, 2010b). There is a growing body of literature on the specifics of Paralympic legacy, which is being brought together in an edited collection by Legg and Gilbert in The Paralympic Games: Legacy and Regeneration (2011).

A media release from the International Paralympic Committee identifies the tremendous spotlight that an international mega event can bring to host cities and countries (International Paralympic Committee, 2011). Disability and access are part of the operational partnership between the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee that host cities are required to address. There is a very strong Australian connection between the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the International Paralympic Committee in what was described as the Benchmark Games (Cashman & Darcy, 2008). Photo 1 shows one of the lasting legacies of the Sydney Games, the inclusions for mobility and vision sports spectator facilities at the Sydney Olympic Stadium (now ANZ Stadium), Sydney Olympic Park.

Photo 1: Accessible seats & tactile ground surface indicators at  ANZ Stadium (© Fiona Darcy 2000)

As the media release identifies the delegation included the Vice President Greg Hartung, who at the time of the Sydney Games was the President of the Australian Paralympic Committee, and the CEO of the IPC Xavier Gonzales, who at the time of the Sydney Games was the Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee’s General Manager Sport and Games Operations. The international spotlight the IPC focuses on the host city offers an opportunity to leverage the games into an opportunity for an accessible destination of the future. We already know from previous entries that some excellent work is being done in Brazil on the accessibility of airports through the Masters by research project of Rafael Teixeira de Castro.

There are a number of groups who are working towards this goal through the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic specialist groups involving people with disability and tourism. A very active group of professionals can be found on LinkedIn through subgroup forums. The importance of the strategic planning for the Rio 2016 Games, the integration of disability and access, and the future leverage for accessible tourism is needed now to make sure that it moves beyond potential to a reality after 2016. I wish Rio the best in these endeavours.

International Paralympic committee media release 16 June 2011
IPC Complete Week of Meetings in Rio, Brazil

An International Paralympic Committee (IPC) delegation including Vice President Greg Hartung, Chief Executive Officer Xavier Gonzalez and Paralympic Games Senior Manager Thanos Kostopoulos has concluded a week of activity in the Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro to see how preparations are going for the 2016 Paralympic Games.

Hartung is a member of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Co-ordination Commission for the Rio 2016 Games which met for second time in Rio to observe the progress made so far.

This included meetings with government officials, venue tours and updates from the Organizing Committee's in different areas. The Co-ordination Commission was also updated on preparations for the Paralympic Games.

Following the conclusion of the IOC's Co-ordination Commission, the IPC held an Executive Project Review with Rio 2016 on Friday 10 June.

The Organizing Committee presented to the IPC their plans on different areas including Rio 2016 organizational structure and its focus on the planning of the Paralympic Games. Sport and venues updates were also given after the inclusion of two new sports (Para-Triathlon and Para-Canoe) in the Paralympic Sport programme as well as the progress on the development of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games emblem which will be launched later this year.

Another important part of the visit was the progress reports from all levels of Government which made clear of the intention to leave a long and lasting legacy for people with an impairment in Rio after the Games.

Xavier Gonzalez said: "A lot of progress has been made since the last time we met which is extremely encouraging and I'd like to thank Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman and his team for their continued hard work. 

"One area which we are particularly excited about is the launch of the Paralympic Games emblem.

"The emblem will gain national and international exposure and will be the symbol of the event. It needs to have the right look and feel for the Games and feature the Agitos, the symbol of the Paralympic Movement. We are confident the final design will achieve this."

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will take place 7-18 September 2016 and will consist of 22 sporting events. For further information, please visit


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