The London 2012 Paralympics were record breaking. Attendances soared, media coverage was extensive and world records were smashed. Unlike previous Paralympic Games, attention did not dwindle after the closing ceremony. Instead a whole nation got behind the Paralympics. On Friday 13th April, we flew over 5500 miles across the North Atlantic Ocean to Rio De Janeiro, host of the 2016 Paralympics. Our aim; to take the Paralympic Games to the world in 2016.
Delivering two workshops between Monday 15th April and Friday 19th April, focus was split under the headings of ‘Communications’ and ‘Marketing’. The workshops carried on our IPC Academy Rio 2016 Excellence Programme, which began in March 2012.
For the first half of the week, we looked at how, from a Communications point of view, Rio2016 can maximise media Coverage and fill venues to the brim, but also at how we people’s perceptions and attitudes towards Paralympic athletes and sports can be changed.
Since the first Paralympic Games at Rome 1960, where a mere 400 athletes competed, the event has gone from strength to strength, with a staggering 4,200 athletes poised to compete in Rio 2016. That’s a 1060% increase from Rome. In terms of media interest, it has been much more sudden. 0.3 million people watched TV coverage of the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, with the figure rapidly rising to 3.8m for London 2012. As such, the Communications workshop looked to build on the recent success of London 2012, utilizing the current Paralympic buzz. We want to allow the Orgnaising Committee to make 2016 even better, with more media coverage, higher attendances and better receptivity of the Paralympics as a whole.
“I really enjoy and appreciate working with the IPC Academy and the World Academy of Sport,” says Frederico Motta, senior marketing & communications manager for the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (BPC). “We are getting a lot of experience from the workshops. The way the Academy is bringing the Brazilian Paralympic Committee and Rio 2016 Organizing Committee together, allowing them to talk to each other is fantastic. We’ve learnt a lot about the way people are perceived. Now we are seeing people change, adapting what they are doing and how they are doing things.”
Frederico Joined the Brazilian Paralympic Committee in 2005, organizing events as part of the team that successfully bid to host the 2016 Games. Talking to WAoS, he shares his thoughts on the programmes. “We [the BPC and Rio 2016 Organizing Committee] now intend to work together more outside of the workshops, not having anyone work alone. The workshops have exposed experiences of London 2012. We plan to take the things that worked well and adapt them to our market and our culture.”
The weeks second workshop, which began Wednesday 17th April, considered factors from a marketing perspective. We want to ensure Brazilians are proud of the 2016 Paralympic Games and the branding that goes with it, with the correlation between brands sponsoring the Paralympics and their favourability in the public eye.
“We always have great expectations when it comes to the Academy, our expectations are the highest they can be.” Stated Frederico. Then, asked to sum up his experiences with the IPC Academy in just three words, he responded with “effective” and “comprehensive” very quickly. Yet, when it came to the third and final word, he pondered on it for a few seconds. “I don’t know the best word in English for this,” he admits before settling on the word “Open. Open to debate and new ideas.”
Asked him on his thoughts of the 2012 Paralympic Games, the prolific Games which Rio has to follow, he said: “Those were the best Games ever. We have very big shoes to fill [but] I was given some advice from Lord Seb Coe at the end of the London Games last year,” He continues. “He said ‘don’t think about London when making your Games, make them your own.’ So yes, we have big shoes to fill but we need to focus on the Rio Games, not on London.”