Following the conclusion of its seventh Project Review on Tuesday (6 December), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) told organisers that with 15 months to go, it must do more to engage people in the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
Four days of meetings were held in PyeongChang and Seoul with the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee (PCOOG) updating the IPC on various functional areas for the Games. This included spectator experience, look of the Games, culture, sport, ceremonies, Test Events, accommodation, ticketing, and communications and engagement.
At the Project Review, the IPC also agreed to a POCOG proposal to consolidate all Para alpine skiing and Para snowboard events at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre in order to make significant savings and achieve operational efficiencies. Originally, the alpine skiing technical events were to be held at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre.
Xavier Gonzalez, the IPC’s Chief Executive, said: “With the new year fast approaching we are moving into the critical final phase for the Organising Committee. After more than five years of planning and preparation, POCOG will switch to implementation. The upcoming Test Events scheduled for early next year will be a good barometer of where they are at and a good opportunity for them to test all operational aspects and validate the assumptions they have made, in particular with athletes transport and venue flows and operations.
“Generally, the Organising Committee is doing well and I would like to thank POCOG for their continued efforts. One area they really do need to hit the accelerator on however, is engagement.
“Awareness of the Paralympic Winter Games and the Paralympic Movement is low in South Korea and this will remain the case if POCOG do not spend the next 15 months connecting the domestic audience with the Games.
“With Test Events in all six Paralympic winter sports set to take place between March and April next year, POCOG must use these as opportunities to showcase the skills of the world’s best winter Para athletes to the people of South Korea.”
The first Paralympic Test Event will be the World Wheelchair Curling Championships between 4-11 March. Then, between 9-18 March, PyeongChang will host Test Events in Para alpine skiing, Para snowboard and Para Nordic skiing. The final event will be the World Para Ice Hockey Championships between 15-23 April.
Before heading to PyeongChang, the IPC took part in last week’s IOC Co-ordination Commission for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Areas of discussion included accessibility, the venue master plan for the Paralympics and communication and engagement.
Xavier Gonzalez said: “In general Tokyo 2020 is making great strides forward and we are greatly encouraged by their progress and commitment to the Paralympic Games.
“Following our learnings from Rio 2016, we highlighted to the Organising Committee the importance of them continuing to engage local and domestic audiences early in the Games. Awareness of the Paralympics is already high in the city, and this is a great platform from which to build from in the coming years.
“With all partners such as Tokyo 2020, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japanese Paralympic Committee showing huge enthusiasm for the delivery of the Paralympics, the key is closer collaboration, especially in terms of areas such as the education programme, which can help engage hundreds of thousands of youngsters into the Games.”