Athletes' Council chair Chelsey Gotell said the meetings had been productive ©Getty Images

The International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Athletes' Council held its first joint session with the organisation's Governing Board in Bonn.

Both parties discussed recommendations on how they can continue to increase awareness of the Council as well as engagement during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The meeting in the German city was the first since the election to the Council of winter sport representatives at Pyeongchang 2018, with other issues discussed including the ongoing suspension of Russia due to the country's doping crisis.

Also on the agenda was the current status of the classification audits conducted by each international federation, and the location for the 2019 Athlete Forum.

Work continued on developing a strategic plan for the Council, with "key strategic pillars" identified and areas of priority set.

A draft version of the plan will be presented at September's gathering of the IPC membership in Madrid.

Chelsey Gotell, a 12-time Paralympic medallist in swimming for Canada and chair of the Athletes' Council, said: "This was a highly productive meeting and it was fantastic to welcome the newly elected members to their first Council meeting. 

"We made significant progress and had very engaging discussions regarding some of the high priority topics for athletes within the movement during the three-day meeting.

"It was also a great step forward for the Athletes' Council in hosting the first ever joint session with the IPC Governing Board. 

"This meeting gave both groups the opportunity to discuss the direction of the Paralympic Movement and provided the Council the chance to highlight our work and outline some of the biggest challenges facing the athlete community.

Andrew Parsons also said the joint meeting with the athlete panel had been a success ©Getty Images
Andrew Parsons also said the joint meeting with the athlete panel had been a success ©Getty Images

"The IPC Governing Board provided some incredibly positive feedback on the work that has gone into the IPC Athletes' Council strategy and some excellent guidance and advice for next steps and implementation.

"They gave their full support to the strategic priorities outlined in the document and stressed the importance of ensuring the athlete voice is central to the IPC's vision and brand positioning."

Members of the Council have now been identified to act as liaison points with athlete representatives from each Paralympic sport, regional organisation, IPC Standing Committees and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

This is in a bid to ensure strong communication between all parties.

The Governing Board also used their time in Bonn to confirm the venue masterplan for the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics and defer a decision on whether bobsleigh should be accepted as a sport.

It had been revealed before the meeting that the IPC Taskforce overseeing Russian reinstatement would not be providing an update as two outstanding criteria had not yet been met.

These are that Russia has still not accepted the findings of the McLaren Report, which accused Russia of state-sponsored doping, and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency remains non-compliant with WADA.

An update was received on preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and there were also reports on the IPC management team, IPC Standing Committees, the European and Oceania Paralympic Committees and World Para Sports.

"It was a very productive three days of meetings in Bonn and it was fantastic to hold a joint session with the IPC Athletes' Council for the first time," said IPC President Andrew Parsons.

"The ongoing Governance Review was discussed as was the need to increase membership engagement before, during and after September's IPC Membership Gathering in Madrid."