Asian Paralympic Committee President visits Central Asia
Asian Paralympic Committee President, Majid Rashed, and CEO Tarek Souei visited three countries from the Central Asian sub-region last week to understand more about the health of the Paralympic Movement there.
The tour, which had been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, kicked off in Uzbekistan where they were hosted by the NPC President Mr. Tashkhudjaev and met with the Minister of Tourism and Sports and Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Aziz Abdukhakimov. They learnt about the growth of para-sport that has seen Uzbekistan first compete at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games with one athlete on a wildcard, to 32 athletes winning 31 medals 12 years later in Rio.
They were encouraged to hear that the President of Uzbekistan has recently signed a decree that stipulates that gold medallists at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will get the same reward as their Olympic counterparts.
Speaking at the end of the visit, Rashed said: “It is clear that Uzbekistan has developed a robust system to develop para-athletes and that this is supported from the very top of their government. We are very encouraged to see the impact that their actions are having on people with a disability in their country and are excited by their ambitions for para-sport in the future.”
On the next stop in Tajikistan, they were hosted by NPC officials and met with the Minister of Sports and the deputy Minister of Health. They heard about the challenges faced in developing para-sport in the country, including the need for more accessible facilities. Over the course of the visit, a number of young athletes who will be invited to compete at the Bahrain 2021 Asian Youth Para Games were identified. Rashed also invited these athletes to hold a training camp at the Dubai Club for People of Determination.
He commented: “The challenges faced in Tajikistan are common. Without accessible facilities it is hard to establish programmes that can deliver athletes to compete at a senior level and without success on the international stage, it is hard to secure funding and to inspire the next generation of athletes to come through. We are very grateful to the Ministers for meeting with us and hearing our suggestions and we are delighted that a number of young para-athletes will be coming to Bahrain to start their journey. They are the future and I hope that this can be a catalyst for the Paralympic Movement to grow in Tajikistan.”
The final stop on the tour was Kyrgyzstan. In addition to meeting the NPC, they met with the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan His Excellency Ulukbek Maripov, and the acting mayor of Bishkek with whom they discussed accessibility issues and how to make the city friendly for all. They also met the recently appointed Minister for Sport Kairat Imanaliev and discussed strategies for growing para-sport in the country, including increasing the number of sports practised and increasing the number of women participating.
Rashed commented: “There is clearly a lot of potential for growth of the Paralympic Movement in the Kyrgyz Republic and Minister Imanaliev recognises this. I would like to thank him for his time and to offer our support in helping the country reach its potential.
“This tour has been very enlightening. It is my first trip to the region and I have been made to feel very welcome. I have been impressed by the dedication and passion of everyone that we have met. The Asian Paralympic Committee is ready to support wherever we can to help the development of para-sport in this region.”