More than 130 athletes attended the Asian Paralympic Committee Athletes' Forum co-hosted by the Korea Paralympic Committee ©APC

Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) chief executive Tarek Souei believes the information gained from its first Athletes’ Forum - attended by more than 130 athletes - will help the organisation "plan for the future".

Athletes representing National Paralympic Committees (NPC) from across Asia joined the meeting, which was held virtually on December 2 and 3.

The Athletes’ Forum was co-hosted by the Korea Paralympic Committee (KPC) under the theme "Together We Are Stronger".

The APC claimed it was the "largest ever gathering of its kind in the region" as athletes shared ideas on the future of the Paralympic Movement.

"We are delighted that so many athletes registered and actively participated in the forum," said Souei.

"There was a lot of interesting and valuable information for them to take away.

"We have learnt a lot too and this will help us as we plan for the future.

"I’d like to thank all the presenters, speakers and guests who joined us from all over the world to make the forum a success."

International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons also delivered a message to the athletes to congratulate them on coming together for the meeting.

"This hasn’t been an easy year for any one of us," Parsons said.

"So, congratulations to all attending the conference remotely to discuss the future of Paralympic Movement.

"This shows resilience; this shows the Asian Paralympic Movement and the NPCs stand by the values of the Paralympic Movement."

In his opening remarks, APC President Majid Rashed told athletes they can "help change societies for the better" and support the organisation’s vision for making Asia more inclusive.

"You athletes are the heart of the Paralympic Movement and we at the APC are committed to supporting you in every way that we can," continued Rashed.

"This forum is a great initiative to help us to do just that."

IPC President Andrew Parsons congratulated athletes for attending the APC Athletes' Forum ©Getty Images
IPC President Andrew Parsons congratulated athletes for attending the APC Athletes' Forum ©Getty Images

Paralympian Jung Jin-owan, who is head of the KPC’s Icheon Training Center, opened the forum with the keynote address on the role of the para-athlete as a driver for social change.

The Para-shooter reflected on how Seoul 1988 had started his journey, claiming the Games helped to change the way disabled people were viewed in South Korea, and urged the athletes to continue the drive towards a more inclusive society.

Jung went on to win a gold medal at Sydney 2000 in the men's air rifle standing SH1.

Topics covered on the first day of the conference included an overview of APC Strategic Plan for 2019 to 2023, the role of the APC Athletes’ Committee, a presentation on the psychology of Paralympians and training management during COVID-19, updates from future Games organisers and women’s participation in Para-sport.

The second day saw discussions on classification and anti-doping, as well as a session on athlete career management that featured presentations from Adecco, Airbnb and the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation.

The closing session looked at the impact of hosting major events and how these can be used to promote athletes as role models.

India’s Ekta Bhyan, who claimed gold in club throw at the 2018 Asian Para Games, said she found the two-day event "very interesting".

"We came to know how we Para-athletes, specially being a female para athlete, can be change makers in society,” said Bhyan.

"The best part was that athletes could ask any question from experts.

"Such initiatives really have great impact for athletes and for Paralympic Movement too."