Bhutan was one of 11 nations whose National Paralympic Committee met with the APC virtually ©APC

The Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) has hosted a series of one-to-one virtual meetings with National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) to receive updates on the development of Para-sport for women during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following up on a similar workshop held in Tokyo last year, meetings were held with 11 NPCs, including the newest members of the APC - Maldives and Bhutan.

APC Women and Sports Committee chairperson Nasanbat Oyunbat, moderated the sessions, while APC vice-president Masayuki Mizuno, APC chief executive Tarek Souei and Japan Paralympic Committee and Japan Sports Council representatives were also in attendance.

NPCs shared details of activities such as awareness programmes, seminars and workshops.

Some of these included breaking social and religious barriers and promoting Para-sport in nations in conflict such as Yemen and Afghanistan.

Pakistan's National Paralympic Committee was another to share updates with the APC ©APC
Pakistan's National Paralympic Committee was another to share updates with the APC ©APC

"It's important to have women's participation in sport for their well-being and development, to provide leadership opportunities with decision-making positions to uphold women's rights and to ensure that women's voices are heard," Oyunbat said.

"We hope to see more and more female athletes joining the Paralympic Movement and taking part in the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

"The good thing is that the activities have started in these countries and gradually, we hope that this will only increase with time and inspire more women to participate in Para-sport."

Oyunbat outlined to NPCs the APC Women and Sports Committee's mission, and highlighted four pillars for keeping athletes motivated during the pandemic - well-being, safety, resources and structure.

APC chief executive Souei encouraged the NPCs to continue promoting Para-sport with an aim to get athletes ready for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Bahrain 2021 Asian Youth Para Games and Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games.

"It's great to see even the newest members of the APC family are actively promoting and supporting their athletes and carrying out programmes to encourage more women in their countries, despite the pandemic," said Souei.

"Some of these NPCs have become role models for many big nations with their success stories in a very short span of time."