November 21 - Rio de Janeiro is capable doing better in 2016 than London 2012 but it will be a tough challenge, the President of the International Paralympic Committee Sir Philip Craven has predicted.
At the opening of the two-day debriefing of the London 2012 Paralympics here, Sir Philip praised British organisers for creating a blueprint on how to organise future Games.
London 2012 was the biggest Games to date with 4,237 athletes from 164 countries and attracted a record 2.72 million spectators, whilst the event was broadcast to more than 115 countries and territories.
Athletes broke 251 world and 314 Paralympic records and their performances generated record viewing figures and front page news in many countries, Sir Philip said at the start of the debriefing.
"Seventy four days ago at the Closing Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, I announced to the world I thought that London 2012 had been the best Paralympic Games ever," he told delegates here, who included Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman (pictured above left with Sir Philip).
"This is a statement I still well and truly stand by today.
"Thanks to the Games a generation has been inspired but also changed.
"The perception of someone with an impairment has changed, especially in Britain, where each week it appears a different survey is published underlining the impact of London 2012.
"The baton has now passed to Rio, a city which faces the same challenge London did four years ago after Beijing - a challenge to deliver an even better Paralympic Games."
But Sir Philip claimed that he is optimistic that the first Paralympics to be hosted in South America has the potential to change not just Brazil but the whole continent.
"Where ever you are in the world, people want to come to Rio," said Sir Philip.
"If you say you're coming here people look at you with envy, they want to join you.
"This is a huge selling point and one we should look to capitalise on.
"Between now and 8 September 2016, when the Opening Ceremony takes place, we should all work together to bring the world's athletes, spectators, media and broadcasters to Rio.
"We should coordinate all our effort to ensure the world is here to witness something unique and ultra-special.
"We have 1,386 days to go until the start of the Games and it is vital that we all work together to educate and motivate the Carioca to bring Rio's world famous carnival atmosphere to the Paralympics and let them claim ownership of the Games, just like London and the UK did.
"I'm confident we can do it, and even more confident that Rio has the potential to deliver the best ever Paralympic Games in 2016."
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