— Published 30 March 2023

Six things to know about the Para Athletics World Championships Paris 2023

100 days to go until the Paris 2023 Para Athletics World Championships. The event will be held from 8 to 17 July at the Charléty stadium, in the south of the French capital. A year and a few weeks before the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, it promises to be a record edition in terms of participation and media coverage. But it is also a must on the road to the next Paralympic Games, and a reference in terms of sustainability and social responsibility.

Guy Tisserant, the vice-president of the organising committee, explained to FrancsJeux the six things you need to know about the 2023 Para Athletics World Championships.

An already historic edition. The World Athletics Championships are the second most important sporting event in the disabled sports calendar after the Paralympic Games and are held every two years. France has already organised them twice, in Villeneuve d’Ascq in 2002, then in Lyon in 2013. The 2023 edition, the first since the health crisis, is expected to bring together more than 1 800 athletes from 120 countries, competing in 171 events. French organisers initially expected around 1,500 competitors, but the prospect of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games has shaken the usual standards of the competition. The event is also expected to bring together 3,000 accredited people, including 2,000 volunteers.

A professional organisation. Around thirty people work on a daily basis for the Organising Committee of the World Para Athletics Championships (COMAP). Some of them come from the French Disabled Sports Federation (FFH), which was mandated by the International Para Athletics Federation (WPA) to organise the event. The COMAP was officially created in February 2022. It is based at the FFH headquarters in the north of Paris. It is chaired by Guislaine Westelynck, the president of the FFH.

A step on the road to Paris 2024. Its competition site, the Charléty stadium, does not allow the Paris 2023 Para Athletics World Championships to be a test event for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, where the athletics events are planned for the Stade de France. However, the event looks set to be a necessary step on the road to the next Paralympic Games. It will be a kind of dress rehearsal, particularly for the delicate issue of transporting athletes and people with disabilities. The Para Athletics World Championships can also serve as a sounding board for a discipline and athletes that are still sometimes unknown to the French public. From a sporting point of view, the competition is part of the qualification process for the Paralympic Games. The athletes will come to the Charléty stadium in search of the Paralympic minimums, or a place in the world ranking.

An unprecedented ticketing system. The French organisers have accepted the choice: access to the ten days of competition will be paid for. This decision is considered legitimate for an event of exceptional size and quality. There are three levels of ticketing: hospitality tickets, which include a service in the stadium (meals, drinks, etc.); single tickets, valid for a single daily session (morning or afternoon) or for the whole day; and finally, a range of solidarity tickets for companies, foundations or associations wishing to distribute them to people who do not have access to the event (day-care centres, establishments for people with disabilities, etc.) Prices: €10.99 to €19.99 for single tickets, with the upper end of the range for tickets for the two sessions on the same day. A total of 300,000 tickets are available, or 30,000 per day of competition. More than 10,000 tickets have already been sold.

Unprecedented media coverage. A partnership agreement has been signed between the organising committee and the L’Equipe group. It provides for a commitment of 30 hours of live coverage of the afternoon sessions on the channel (the morning sessions will be accessible on the group’s live 1 and live 2 channels), a daily follow-up in the newspaper, a tab on the website and the application, and finally a special feature in the magazine. Media partnership agreements have also been signed with Radio France (France Info and France Bleu) and Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui en France. A promotional campaign has already been deployed in the Paris metro and buses. A second one is currently underway. A third will follow in June and July.

A sustainable and responsible event. The promise is written in stone: the 2023 Para Athletics World Championships must serve as a model and reference in terms of sustainable development and social responsibility. A clause relating to these two priorities is included in the contracts concluded by the COMAP with its service providers. An operation to raise awareness of climate issues is being organised this Thursday 30 March, in parallel with the celebration of D-100 before the opening of the event. Another commitment: legacy. The organising committee has recruited 23 people on a work-study basis, spread throughout France, with the mission of boosting the development of the practice. The initiative is already a success, with a record number of members and disabled sport sections in athletics clubs this season.