By Gary Anderson

Dubai will host the first ever IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships in 2016 ©AFP/Getty ImagesDubai will host the first ever International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships in 2016, it was announced today. 

The Championships, scheduled to take place from March 3 to 8, are expected to attract around 600 athletes from 45 countries.

IPC Athletics have described the event as "part of its strategy to provide more high level competition opportunities for Para-athletes around the world".

It also promised the local organisers will provide a strong solidarity programme to ensure maximum participation at the event, and to develop Para-athletics.

Dubai has already staged IPC Athletics Grand Prix meetings in 2013 and earlier this year, where over 500 athletes from 37 countries took part in competition at the Sharjah Club in the Emirate.

"We are privileged and honoured to be hosting the inaugural IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships," said chief executive of Dubai Sports Club for the Disabled Majid Rashed.

"In the United Arab Emirates and especially Dubai, we have a proud tradition of supporting and developing Para-sports as shown last year with our hosting of the IPC Powerlifting World Championships, and over the last two years the IPC Athletics Grand Prix.

"Our aim is not only to provide high level competition for athletics but also to ensure the continual development of Para-sport in the region and we are confident with these Championships we can continue to do so.

"We are looking forward to our friends from Asia and Oceania attending these Championships as a last major gathering from the region prior to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games."

The Championships will provide opportunities for athletes to qualify for Rio 2016 and will take place just a couple of months before the IPC Athletics European Championships in Grosseto, Italy.

Both venues are expected to once again stage Grand Prix meetings in 2015 when IPC Athletics announces the dates and venues for the series in the coming weeks.

Chinese Paralympic champion Zhou Hongzhuan could be one of the stars set to appear at the inaugural IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships in Dubai in 2016 ©AFP/Getty ImagesChinese Paralympic champion Zhou Hongzhuan could be one of the stars set to appear at the inaugural IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships in Dubai in 2016
©AFP/Getty Images

Head of IPC Athletics, Ryan Montgomery claimed the announcement of the new Championships indicates the growth and strength of Para-sport in Asia, currently hosting the Asia Para Games in Incheon, South Korea, which close today.

He also revealed that plans are being discussed for the launch of similar Para-athletics Championships in Africa and the Americas.

"Our aim at IPC Athletics is to develop a competition calendar that caters for the long term development of athletes and National Paralympic Committees in all regions around the world," said Montgomery.

"Announcing this event is another step in the right direction continuing the advancements that have been made following London 2012.

"The Asian Para Games are underlining the breadth of talent there is in Asia, but it is equally important to provide high level competition opportunities for athletes in Oceania outside of the World Championships and Paralympic Games and this event achieves that objective.

"Looking further ahead, regular regional Championships in Africa, the Americas and Asia-Oceania are in development to sit alongside the strong competition calendar in Europe, ensuring the further development of the sport."

Yesterday, IPC Athletics announced that London would stage the marathon events of next year's World Championships.

It was claimed the move was designed to better suit the racing schedules of the leading marathon racers and is not related to the searing heat in Qatar, which is scheduled to host the Championships from October 22 to 31.

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