The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) welcomed five new members to its family at the 2023 IPC General Assembly in Manama, Bahrain, on Thursday (28 September).
Five new members were officially ratified on the first day of the General Assembly, bringing the IPC’s membership to 208 (183 NPCs). The new members are: the National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) of Bangladesh and Kosovo; Saudi Arabia, who previously were an NPC but are now an integrated NOC (National Olympic Committee)-NPC; the International Federations (IFs) of the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS), and the International Biathlon Union (IBU).
Bangladesh becomes the 45th NPC from Asia; Kosovo the 49th from the European region; and FIS and the IBU are respectively the 16th and 17th IFs.
Maksudur Rahman, Secretary General, NPC Bangladesh, said: “Sport is a right for persons with a disability and gaining IPC membership is a gateway to providing greater awareness for our Para athletes in the international arena.
“This is a milestone moment for NPC Bangladesh, and we are excited to move forward within the Paralympic Movement. We have finally succeeded in a long journey that began in 2017.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the IPC Governing Board members and fellow IPC members, the Honourable Sports Ministry of Bangladesh and especially the Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh for her continuous support.
“I am also grateful to the support from the IPC Membership Team who have taught me many things and guided me through the process of achieving this membership.”
Njomza Emini, President of Kosovo NPC, stated: “Becoming an official IPC member fulfills a long-held dream. After over a decade as a national Para sports organisation, we have met the IPC’s rigorous standards. I extend heartfelt thanks to IPC staff, IPC President Andrew Parsons, and the European Paralympic Committee for their support.
“This IPC membership promises to elevate Para sports in Kosovo, providing inspiration and pride to our athletes and people with disabilities. While our financial resources are limited, Kosovo NPC is committed to fulfilling its IPC membership duties to the highest standard. We deeply appreciate the unwavering support we have received.”
Abdulaziz Baeshen, Secretary General and Executive Director, Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said: “We are looking for better inclusion between all of our athletes. I think that the merger tries to bring that together, as well as giving fair accessibility for all across the NPC and NOC. I believe we are on that journey, and we are very excited.”
Johan Eliasch, President, FIS, commented: “We at FIS are delighted to be joining the IPC. Our goal is nothing less than to be the most inclusive sport on earth, tearing down whatever barriers stand in our way, showing people around the world that the joy of skiing and snowboarding is open to all.
“That is why we have been so keen to embrace Para athletes into the FIS family – and joining the IPC is the next great step towards a sport that is truly inclusive.
“The relationship with the IPC will help us to improve the infrastructure for Para skiing and snowboarding around the world, working with national associations to strengthen the competitions we hold, extend the training we offer, and provide more opportunities for the future stars of Para sports.”
Olle Dahlin, IBU President, added: “We are thrilled to join the Paralympic Movement and wider Para sports family. At the same time, we welcome Para biathlon into the IBU family. We are one sport, and we are proud that now Para biathletes and biathletes are side by side within the IBU.
“We will work closely with the IPC and the Para biathlon family to build on all the progress to date and ensure we deliver further improvements through sport technical expertise, event enhancement and empowered National Federations. We are committed to providing a stage that our great Para biathletes deserve.”