Zhang Haidi is the surprise fourth candidate in the race to become IPC President ©Getty Images

China's Zhang Haidi is standing to replace Sir Philip Craven as President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), it was announced today.  

Zhang, chairperson of the China Disabled Persons' Federation, had not publicly announced her intention to stand for the role.

She joins Andrew Parsons of Brazil, Canada's Patrick Jarvis and Denmark's John Petersson, who had already declared they had been put forward. 

Parsons, Jarvis and Petersson told insidethegames earlier this month that their applications had been submitted on their behalf by the June 7 deadline.

The IPC's announcement of those in the race to succeed Sir Philip, who has led the worldwide governing body since 2001, means formal campaigning can now officially begin.

The election is due to be held at the IPC General Assembly in Abu Dhabi on September 8.

Petersson, a former head of the European Paralympic Committee, is also standing for vice-president, along with New Zealand's Duane Kale and Asian Paralympic Committee President Majid Rashed of the United Arab Emirates.

A total of 23 candidates have been nominated to become members at large at the IPC.

"A total of 29 nominations have been approved by the IPC for 26 candidates and the IPC’s announcement effectively heralds the start of campaigning for the 12 positions available within the IPC Governing Board," the IPC said in a statement.

"All nominee applications have been reviewed by the IPC Credentials Commission against the criteria and conditions for nominations in accordance with the IPC rules and regulations.

Zhang is a well-known advocate of disability sport in China and is currently a vice-president of Beijing 2022.

The 62-year-old is also a writer, translator and inspirational speaker.

Brazilian Andrew Parsons is widely considered favourite to replace Sir Philip Craven as President of the IPC ©Getty Images
Brazilian Andrew Parsons is widely considered favourite to replace Sir Philip Craven as President of the IPC ©Getty Images

Parsons, a current IPC vice-president, had been widely expected to run after standing down last month as President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee.

He is a member of the IOC Coordination Commission for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympics in Tokyo and also sits on the Olympic Channel Commission. 

Parsons, a former President of the Americas Paralympic Committee, is expected to employ London-based strategic communications agency Vero to mastermind the media side of his campaign.

He is widely considered to be the favourite. 

Jarvis, the former Canadian Paralympic Committee President, has served three-terms on the IPC Governing Board, so is only eligible to run for the top job this year.

The Barcelona 1992 Paralympian has been involved in sport since 1987. 

Petersson, a 15-time Paralympic medallist and six-time champion in swimming, is also an active accountant and former executive director at Ernst & Young in Copenhagen. 

He has served on the IPC Finance Committee since 2006.

The winner will become just the third IPC President in the organisation's 28-year history.

Canadian Robert Steadward was elected as the founding head when the IPC replaced the International Coordination Committee of World Sports Organisations for the Disabled in 1989. 

He was replaced 12 years later by Great Britain's former wheelchair basketball player Sir Philip.