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Delegates from the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC), which is based in the UAE, visited the kingdom over the weekend to sign the Host City contract and discuss the next phase of preparations for the 2021 Asian Youth Para Games, writes Mai Al Khatib-Camille.
The 2021 Asian Para Games, set for December 1-10, is a multi-sport event held for athletes with disability and it is being staged for the first time in Bahrain. And while preparations have continued behind the scenes, the site visit and signing ceremony had been delayed due to the pandemic.
“I’m delighted that we have finally been able to visit Bahrain and conduct this ceremony,” said APC President Majid Rashed. He and chief executive officer Tarek Souei met with Bahrain Paralympic Committee (BPC) chairman Shaikh Mohammed bin Duaij Al Khalifa and secretary general Ali Mohamed Al Majed to formally sign the Host City contract.
“Both organisations have continued to work on the delivery of the Games throughout the pandemic but to be here and to meet in person gives us all a huge boost,” he added. “The Games are an important stepping stone for young Asian para-athletes on their sporting journey. This journey has had so much disruption over the past year but these Games give us all hope and something to aim for so that they are back on track for Paris 2024 and beyond.
“I’d like to thank His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed bin Duaij Al Khalifa, the Bahrain National Paralympic Committee (NPC) and the Bahrain government for all their efforts in delivering these Games for Asia’s youth.”
An estimated 800 athletes under 20 are expected to compete in nine sports consisting of athletics, badminton, boccia, goalball, para taekwondo, powerlifting, swimming, table tennis and wheelchair basketball.
Shaikh Duaij said: “The Asian Youth Para Games event is very important for the athletes and the NPC as we are all eyeing the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
“We have one of the largest youth communities in Asia and it’s important to give them an opportunity to compete in a fair ‘Games’.”
In a meeting following the ceremony, both organisations discussed some key areas such as sport entries, accreditation, accommodation and Covid-19 protocols. They also talked about potentially amending the competition dates to ensure that there is no clash with the International Paralympic Committee’s General Assembly which is scheduled for December 11-12. A decision on this is expected in the next two weeks.
In terms of preparation, the BPC has created various committees for the conduct of the Games. The sports facilities have also been approved by the Asian Paralympic Committee.
The sporting event will take place across numerous venues in Khalifa Sports City, a multi-use stadium in Isa Town, and Isa Sports City, the national indoor facility.
Aside from signing the contract, February has been a good month for the Bahraini Para Athletics Team. The team achieved seven medals in the Fazza International Athletics Championships for People with Determination which was held in Dubai from February 6 to 14.
Para athlete Roba Alomari won two silver medals, Amal Alfardan clinched one silver and one bronze medal, Fatima Abdulrazzaq brought home two bronze medals and Mohamed Jawad secured one bronze medal.
This Championship is considered a stage for the qualifying rounds for the Paralympic Games that will be held in Tokyo later this year and Ms Alomari has secured a seat in the discus throw.