The first-ever Paralympic day was held in Paris on 8th October. The Paris 2024 Organising Committee hosted the day at the Place de la Bastille. An estimate of 40,000 people gathered at the French capital to celebrate the day.
The Paralympic Day programme featured motivational speeches and entertainment, and also gave opportunities for visitors to try out about 15 Para sports and meet more than 150 accomplished athletes.
The program was attended by Tony Estanguet, President of Paris 2024, Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Amelie Oudea-Catsera, Minister for Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Genevieve Darrieussecq, Minister for the Disabled, and Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris.
French Wheelchair Tennis player and Paralympic Gold medalist Jeremiasz who is also a member of the Athlete Commission for Paris 2024, was the presenter for the day. Jeremiasz won Gold at the Beijing 2008 in men’s doubles.
“I want it to grow. I want any kid or young adult or any disabled person to know that sport is accessible to them, that sport is an opportunity to get out of a protected environment, a medicalised environment, to get friends, to have fun, to live a healthier life. You are quite a sedentary population when you’re disabled, especially when you’re in a wheelchair so you need sports to live better, to live longer. It helps with your quality of life” said Jeremiasz.
“At the moment, disabled people are the most discriminated minority in France. For the last three years we are the most discriminated minority so obviously there’s a lot to do in terms of employment, in terms of universal accessibility, in terms of access to sports, culture, sexuality, to housing, to everything. And I’m not saying the Paralympic Games are going to change everything from one day to another, but they will definitely speed up the process,” he added.
“I want to see many more disabled people believing that they have the right to do some sport activities and, more globally, I want our society to understand that at the end of the day, we’re the same. We can’t judge people on their ability or inability to walk, jump, run, see. That just doesn’t make sense.” Jeremiasz told Paris 2024.
In less than 2 years, athletes with intellectual impairments will be at the Paris 2024, competing in Table Tennis, Swimming and Athletics, sharing their passion for sports, and inspiring the next generation.