Worlds Para-Athletics, home of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, wants to draw crowds

International athletes, top performances and communication at breakneck speed… The pot is ready to boil in the “cauldron” of the Charléty stadium. All players in the disabled sports movement are mobilized to ensure that the para-athletics world championships, organized from 8 to 17 July in Paris, take place in the best conditions. And for good reason: these World Cups are a dress rehearsal for the Paralympic Games in Paris, in just over a year (28 August to 8 September 2024).

Coming from 107 countries, almost 1,330 paraplegic, visually impaired, amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectually disabled or mentally disabled athletes will set off on the tartan, from Saturday 8 July, to win a qualifying ticket for the JOP in Paris. With an unknown factor: will the spectators respond present, with athletes and a discipline still largely unknown to the general public?

“The proximity of the Paralympic Games brings us light. We feel a lot of enthusiasm for these World Cups and the media ask us more than usual », enthuses Dimitri Jozwicki, fourth at the Tokyo Games in the 100 m category T38 – athletes whose movements and coordination of the lower trunk and legs are slightly limited. ” From there to say I’m arrested on the street, we’re not there yethas fun, but let’s say that I’m a star in my neighborhood and that the sponsors are more sensitive to my project”. The sprinter, suffering from tetraparesis – an invisible handicap that affects the joints and muscle coordination – is one of the main hopes of a tricolor medal at these world championships.

More than 105,000 tickets sold, a record for disabled sports

If the Lille athlete doesn’t benefit from the same media coverage as Kevin Mayer or Renaud Lavillenie, the Frenchman assures that he has gradually gained exposure from the Tokyo Games. The World Cup organization, for its part, can be congratulated for having sold more than 105,000 tickets (including 45,000 seats offered), spread over the ten days of competition. A record for a sports championship for the disabled: by way of comparison, the last World Cup, organized in Dubai in 2019, attracted a total of 5,000 people.

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“The hardest thing is to get the viewer to this point for the first time, then they will be more inclined to go back to seeing disabled sports, explains Adrien Balduzzi, event director of the championship, on the basis of a study established during the Para-cycling World Championships. The goal was therefore to excessively democratize the Paralympic universe by adding a little fun to it”.

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