The countdown to Europe’s first multi-parasport championships is officially over after the Opening Ceremony of the European Para Championships 2023 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. A sold out RTM stage in Rotterdam Ahoy was treated to spectacular performances by popstars Davina Michelle and Viktoria Modesta.
The ceremony, which also included dance acts and welcoming speeches, was held in front of a big crowd including athletes, coaches, officials as well as International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons and Dutch Sports Minister Conny Helder.
Tournament director Jeroen Straathof spoke highly about the Opening Ceremony and said he is looking forward to the first days of competition in Rotterdam. “All preparations have been done. Now, the spotlight turns to the athletes – they are the heart and soul of our event”, said Straathof. “In the next 13 days, each sport, each athlete, each team, each country has the opportunity to show the best of themselves and show Europe how fantastic Para Sports are.”
“Together, we aim to build on the legacy of the Paralympic movement. Not only on the field of play, but also in the Dutch society, we want to create awareness to get more people with a disability to do sports. We think that one of the ways doing that is to bring the sport to the people, like the City Centre Courts.”
Sports minister Conny Helder acknowledged the importance of the European Para Championships in Rotterdam during her speech. “As far as I’m concerned, the first win is already behind us”, Helder said. “By this, I mean the fact that we are standing here”, she added about the start of the event. “The place in the limelight is not only important for the 1,500 athletes who compete here, but for everyone who has a disability. Sport is crucial for an equal, inclusive society. Sport must be accessible to all and that is not yet the case. The high-profile nature of the European Para Championships will certainly help raise awareness.”
Andrew Parsons, the president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), thanked the organisers for their efforts in creating a new Para Sports event. “I hope it will inspire other cities to host these Games in the years to come. Leaving a legacy is important. How amazing would it be for this event to become a regular part of the European sports calendar in 2027, 2031 and beyond.”
The European Para Championships from 8 to 20 August, with European titles at stake in ten different sports (Para cycling, Para archery, Para badminton, Wheelchair tennis, Goalball, Wheelchair basketball, Para judo, Shooting Para sport and Para taekwondo. The multi-sport event also offers the chance for athletes to gain qualification points or direct qualification for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games
A total number of 1,500 athletes from 45 different countries will be competing in Rotterdam. All competitions will be streamed live on the official European Para Championships platforms.
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