Bonn-Germany, May 15, 2012: Order Friendship, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven has received the prestigious Order of Friendship for his outstanding contribution to developing the Paralympic Movement from acting Russian Deputy Prime Minster Dmitry Kozak during a two day visit to the country to check on preparations for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Sir Philip was in Moscow on Monday (14 May), together with IPC CEO Xavier Gonzalez, to receive the accolade which was awarded last month by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and is usually presented to Russian citizens for excellent service but can also be awarded to foreign nationals for outstanding contributions to strengthening friendship and co-operation between nations and people.
Sir Philip Craven said: “I am extremely honoured to receive this prestigious award from acting Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak. It is a wonderful surprise and I am deeply touched.
“The Paralympic Movement has come a long way in Russia in recent years and I am confident it will experience exceptional growth in the years to come as a result of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
“The first Paralympic Games ever to take place in Russia are a huge opportunity for the whole Paralympic Movement. Thanks to the excellent work of the Local Organizing Committee I am confident the whole country will make the most of the upcoming Games, leaving a lasting legacy for sport and people with an impairment in Russia.”
During their meeting with Dmitry Kozak, who is overseeing preparations for Sochi 2014, Sir Philip and Xavier Gonzalez were updated on the creation of a barrier free environment in Sochi, which the Russian government hopes can act as a blueprint for how other cities in the country can fully integrate people with an impairment into the community.
Sir Philip also asked what measures were being taken to maximize the Russian audience for the forthcoming London 2012 Paralympic Games.
“We are working to increase the amount of broadcasting of the London Paralympics by the Russian channels,” Kozak said. “Also we plan to make the time of the highlights programmess more convenient to attract a bigger audience.”
From Moscow, the IPC President made his first visit to Sochi, the Russian Black Sea coastal resort that will stage the Paralympic Winter Games in 2014.
In Sochi the IPC President and CEO inspected the city’s sports venues and infrastructure. Both were impressed by the scale of the barrier-free environment being constructed, and by the Games organizers’ intention, along with the city’s authorities, to ensure that all the sports venues are accessible to people with an impairment.
A total of 1,800 different venues will be made accessible by 2014, including the Sochi International Airport; almost a third of them are already fully accessible.
On Tuesday (15 May) Sir Philip and Xavier Gonzalez began their visit to Sochi by meeting Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, after which an inspection tour of the city was laid on for so they could assess the city’s infrastructure in terms of its accessibility.
During the excursion both were shown the clock, which is counting down to the start of the Paralympic Winter Games which start in 661 days time on 7 March 2014.
Later the IPC President and CEO looked round the Paralympic venues in the Coastal cluster, in the Imeretinskaya Valley, and noted their high state of readiness for hosting the upcoming Paralympic Games.
Sir Philip Craven, President of the IPC, said: “I’m really impressed with the preparations for the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi – much of the barrier-free city environment already matches up to the IPC’s high global standards. All the venues have acquired their shape and their infrastructure is fully adapted for people with impairments. And it’s a milestone in terms of staging the most innovative Paralympic Games ever, which I’m looking forward to.”
The President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, noted: “The upcoming Paralympic Games in 2014 are already helping to transform Sochi into a model city in terms of constructing a barrier-free environment. All infrastructure in the Olympic and Paralympic host city is fast becoming more accessible to people with an impairment. I’m sure that thanks to the Paralympic Games, the environment is accessible and this will start to spring up not just in one particular area, but in other cities throughout Russia.”
The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will take place between 7-16 March 2014 and will feature medal events in Alpine Skiing, Nordic Skiing, Ice Sledge Hockey and Wheelchair Curling. It was recently announced that two Para-Snowboard events will form part of the Alpine Skiing programme for the first time.
The qualification criteria for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will be published on Monday 28 May 2012.
For further information, please visit www.sochi2014.com
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