Coronavirus: 'We will find fair solutions for athletes' - Paralympics chief Parsons

IPC president Andrew Parsons
Parsons took over as International Paralympic Committee president in September 2017

The International Paralympic Committee will find "fair solutions" for athletes regarding Tokyo 2020, says its president Andrew Parsons.

At present, the Olympics and Paralympics are both still scheduled to take place, despite the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

But many Paralympic qualifying events have been cancelled.

"Time is on our side to determine whether or not more drastic measures need to be taken," said Parsons.

"We fully understand that the cancellation of competitions has led to uncertainty with qualification and classification opportunities.

"We are working around the clock to try to find solutions to every scenario we face.

"Over the coming weeks and months, as the picture becomes clearer, the International Federations, together with us, will find fair solutions for all athletes."

Parsons insists they are doing all they can to ensure the Paralympics start as planned on 25 August, 16 days after the Olympics finish, but also said the health and wellbeing of Para-athletes remained a top priority and they would continue to get advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Any delay to the Olympic dates would obviously have a knock-on for the Paralympics.

Powerlifter Ali Jawad
Ali Jawad is hoping to make it to his fourth Paralympics

However, IPC officials admit that some Paralympic athletes could be "more vulnerable" to the virus, and that they "don't know" the full impact due to its recent onset, and the wide range of underlying conditions concerned.

British Paralympic medal-winning powerlifter Ali Jawad says the IPC needs to be more transparent in its information, especially for athletes whose immune systems may be compromised.

Jawad has Crohn's Disease and has put off a stem cell transplant in order to try to compete in Tokyo.

"If the IPC is determined that the Games will go ahead, it needs to tell the athletes how it is going to tackle the spread of the virus, and what it's going to do in the [athletes'] village and competition areas to make sure their safety and welfare is being considered," he said.

The British Paralympic Association also said it is carrying out sport-by-sport risk assessments to identify any additional concerns associated with specific impairment types that would make up the GB delegation for Tokyo.

It added that although there are significant concerns being raised by athletes globally as their opportunities to both train and qualify for the Games are severely restricted, British athletes should continue to prepare but only where it is safe and appropriate to do so, adhering to the current government and public health guidelines.