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SBD Global/January 29, 2013/Olympics

IPC Athletics Adds Six Grand Prix Events, But Top Paralympian Criticizes Plan

The Int'l Paralympic Committee has outlined its plans to stage six Grand Prix events this spring and summer. The events will start in March with a three-day meeting in Dubai, UAE before heading to Beijing; São Paulo, Brazil; Grosseto, Italy; Arizona, U.S.; and Berlin. IPC Athletics Sport Technical Committee Chair Ed Warner said, "This announcement is a direct legacy of London 2012 where the sport's profile was raised to astronomical levels" (IPC).

DOUBTS RAISED: In London, Hart & Davies reported Britain wheelchair racer David Weir said that combining Paralympic and able-bodied athletes for events "is the best way forward if the new grand prix series is to be sustainable." Weir: "If they promote the events well, it's a good idea. If they don’t promote them, my fear is that will peter out and fold, and we don’t want that." He added, "I think it would have been a good idea if we integrated with the able-bodied events. I think we'll get crowds and attendance in this country, but will the crowds be there if it is in Beijing or Shanghai? We were told the IPC World Championships in New Zealand was going to be a sell-out. There was no one there." Full integration is unlikely because "meetings would have to stretch to five or six hours to accommodate all the races and field events -- which would be highly unattractive to broadcasters" (TELEGRAPH, 1/28).

IN THE POOL: Additionally, the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships will be held Aug. 11-17 at Montreal's Parc Jean Drapeau Aquatic Complex. The event will be the first major gathering of int'l athletes since the London Paralympics, and is expected to attract around 650 swimmers from 50 countries
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