February 16 - The Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games has a major role to play in growing the Paralympic Movement in the Americas, according to President of the Americas Paralympic Committee (APC) Octavio Londoño.
Speaking at a reception for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Coordination Commission visiting Toronto, Londoño explained that the next four years are key to growing the awareness and visibility of the Paralympic Movement in the area and that he was delighted by Toronto 2015's enthusiasm to deliver the best Games ever.
He also stressed how important it was for Toronto 2015 to build on the success of London 2012, when it welcomes some 1,500 athletes from 28 National Paralympic Committees to compete in the 15 sports of the Parapan Games.
"These Games are vital to the growth of the Paralympic Movement, not just here in the Americas, but the whole world," said Londoño.
"Last year's London 2012 Paralympic Games were an outstanding success, breaking multiple records and surpassing all expectations.
"Although they were a huge success there was room for improvement, there always is, especially here in the Americas where television and media coverage in some countries was regrettably limited."
The Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, which are due to get underway on August 7 2015, will be the biggest to date - as well as the first in Canada - and will act as qualifiers for Rio 2016.
Londoño hopes that with South America staging its first Paralympics in 2016, there will be an uplift in the amount of media and television coverage disability sport receives in the Americas.
He also highlighted how Canada and Toronto are important in helping to grow the Paralympic Movement between now and 2016.
"As a country Canada has a major role to play hosting a number of major Parasport events starting with August's IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal," Londoño explained.
"As a city Toronto has the biggest role to play between now and Rio 2016.
"If together we can deliver the biggest and best Parapan American Games in terms of sport, participation, accessibility, inclusion, crowds and media coverage, then we can head into Rio 2016 with significant momentum.
"With this momentum, our aim is do for the Americas what London 2012 did for Great Britain and Europe."
The first Parapan American Games were held in 1998 in Mexico City and featured 1,000 athletes from 18 countries competing in four sports, with the most recent being staged in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011 and featured 13 sports and 1,310 athletes.
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