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World Paralympic Championships Postponed in Wake of Mexico City Earthquake

4 Oct, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
World Archery Championships Still on the Schedule, But May Make a Determination Later

As the mainland U.S. staggers to its feet after two back-to-back hurricanes, and as Puerto Rico continues its struggle for survival, Mexico City has been dealing with the devastation wrought by an earthquake that measured an astounding 7.1 on the Richter Scale.

The worst of the aftershocks: A death toll of 320 (at last count). A complicating factor has been heavy rains that made search-and-rescue efforts even more perilous, and brought down even more buildings.

It didn't even cause a ripple, therefore, that the International Paralympic Committee postponed its swimming and powerlifting championships, formerly scheduled to be held this week in Mexico City.

It is the first time in the history of the IPC that major championships have needed to be postponed.  Around 360 of the world’s strongest Para-powerlifters from 65 countries were set to compete at the Juan de la Barrera Olympic Gymnasium, and more than 550 swimmers from 60 countries were expected at the Francisco Marquez Olympic Swimming Pool. Some athletes and personnel had already arrived, but communications received since the earthquake indicated they were all safe, and would be returning home as soon as possible.

An article in Inside The Games quoted that IPC President Andrew Parsons:

 "As a result of this tragedy, we are in full agreement that the immediate focus of the Mexican authorities should be on prioritizing recovery and rebuilding for the Mexican people and not organizing two major international sport events. Therefore, we have agreed with the Local Organizing Committee and City of Mexico Government to postpone the upcoming world championships in Para-swimming and Para-powerlifting until further notice. I know the postponement of both championships will be disappointing news to all the athletes who were set to take part, however these are unique circumstances and quite simply, this is the right thing to do at the moment."

The IPC has said the decision was taken "following an assessment of the current situation and after close liaison with the local organizing committee and the City of Mexico Government.”

Although the two venues that were set to host the sporting competition appear to have sustained only minor damage, a full structural assessment must now be conducted. However, some of the hotels that were to accommodate athletes sustained more serious damage.

The IPC said it will wait for further word from Mexico City to see whether the championship events can be rescheduled, or whether it will seek alternative sites.

The World Archery Championships, meanwhile, also scheduled for Mexico City, but not until later this month, have adopted a wait-and-see attitude and will make an announcement regarding plans.

Those who would like to locate reputable charities for victims of the earthquake in Mexico (and/or those affected by Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey) are urged to check Charity Navigator which evaluates charitable organizations based on financial health, accountability, transparency, and results; it has sections specifically for each of those recent disasters, where many groups are listed.

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