The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has postponed the World Para Swimming and World Para Powerlifting Championships in Mexico City following a devastating earthquake in the country.
The two Championships were due to be staged from September 30 to October 6 as part of a large Para Sport Festival.
It is the first time in the history of the IPC that they have postponed a major Championships, with the situation the first major incident of Andrew Parsons’ Presidency.
The Brazilian was only elected to replace the outgoing Sir Philip Craven on September 8.
Around 360 of the world’s strongest Para-powerlifters from 65 countries were set to compete at the Juan de la Barrera Olympic Gymnasium.
More than 550 swimmers from 60 countries were expected at the Francisco Marquez Olympic Swimming Pool.
The earthquake, which struck late yesterday, measured 7.1 on the Richter magnitude scale and is said to have killed more than 200 people and toppled many buildings.
“Following the terrible earthquake our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with the people of Mexico at this time,” said Parsons.
“The tragic loss of life and devastation caused is heart breaking to see and our deepest sympathies are with all those involved.
“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.
In addition, some of the hotels set to accommodate athletes and related infrastructure have been badly affected.
A small number of team delegations had already arrived in the city for training camps before the event and all have indicated they are safe following the earthquake.
“Our immediate priority now is to work with the team delegations currently in Mexico City to ensure their safe departure,” added Parsons.
“We will then assess whether we can reorganize these Championships in the near future in Mexico City or seek alternatives.”
In an e-mail seen by insidethegames, Ivar Sisniega, the secretary general of the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO), said he was in the body’s office at the time of the earthquake.
“We are all ok,” he said.
“We were at the office and ran out into the street.
“The road felt like a surf board and the building in front of PASO looked like it would fall on top of us.
“But fortunately we are ok.”
By Max Winters
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.