The comparison is obvious. On Wednesday 10 March, Thomas Bach was re-elected for a second consecutive term as IOC President. The German leader, who was the only candidate to succeed him, received 93 of the 94 votes cast. On Sunday 12 December, Andrew Parsons did equally well. The Brazilian was re-elected for a new four-year term, the second in a row, as President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Andrew Parsons was also the only candidate. He received 156 votes out of 159 valid votes, or 98% of the votes.
Thomas Bach will not go further than 2025, the end of his second term. The IOC statutes do not allow this. Andrew Parsons, on the other hand, could take over the IPC for good. The Brazilian is young, only 44 years old. Above all, he embodies the future of a Paralympic movement that is aware that it is currently experiencing the best years of its history.
A singular career. Born in Brazil to Scottish parents, Andrew Parsons started out in the late 1990s as an intern with the Brazilian Paralympic Committee. After a stint in journalism, he climbed step by step, but at a furious pace, all the way up the pyramid. In 2009, at the age of 32, he took the chair of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee. Then he took his place at the head of the Paralympic Committee of the Americas. In 2017, at just 40 years old, he succeeded the British Sir Philip Craven as head of the IPC, who had decided to step down after 16 years in office.
In his four years as President, Andrew Parsons has already left his mark on the Paralympic movement, despite a mandate that was severely disrupted by the health crisis. He has opened up the IPC to athletes (eight former athletes or Paralympians have been among the 13 members of the body’s board of directors since Sunday 12 December). He has strengthened the relationship between the IPC and the IOC, signing a new marketing agreement between the two bodies until the Brisbane Games in 2032. He also led the IPC to focus part of its strategy on respecting and promoting the human rights of people with disabilities
Our focus is clearer than ever,” said Andrew Parsons on Sunday 12 December after his re-election. It is all about athletes and members, the Paralympic Games and human rights.
During the same General Assembly, held in virtual mode, the IPC reappointed New Zealander Duane Kale as Vice-President for another four-year term. A former Paralympic swimmer, present at the Atlanta Games in 1996, he was also the only candidate for the post. He obtained 154 votes out of the 159 votes cast.
For the rest, the IPC has chosen change. Its new Board has a record number of six women, including the Chair of the Athletes’ Committee, Dutch wheelchair basketball player Jitske Visser.
The Board members were elected on Sunday 12 December for a four-year term until the 22nd IPC General Assembly at the end of 2025. The future Vice-President of the Athletes’ Committee, who will be elected by his peers after the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, will also be invited to sit on the Board.