By Nick Butler

Andrew Parsons appears the obvious link between Rio 2016 and the Paralympic Movement ©Getty ImagesInternational Paralympic Committee (IPC) vice-president Andrew Parsons has been appointed chair of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Integration Committee following reports of "encouraging progress" after a visit by senior officials. 

The appointment of Parsons, elected as vice-president last November and who is also President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee, is part of an attempt to bring together the Paralympic-specific elements of each functional area to find solutions, on a monthly basis, to any issues as they arise. 

His appointment has been taken as a means to underline how committed Rio 2016 are to delivering a high-quality Paralympic Games.

"I'm delighted to be appointed Chair of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Integration Committee and it is a great honour for me to be further involved in the organisation of South America's first Paralympic Games," said Parsons.

"The 2016 Paralympic Games have the potential to transform this region and the lives of millions of people.

"I am looking forward to working with the great team already established within the Organising Committee to deliver a global showcase of sport that will build on the success of London 2012."

The announcement came after two days of  project review meetings between Rio 2016 and Paralympic officials, including Parsons and IPC chief executive Xavier Gonzalez. 

During these meetings the IPC received updates on many functional areas of the Games, including venues, sport, culture, education, ticketing, accommodation, accreditation, transport, commercial, communications, press operations and broadcasting.

Rio 2016 and IPC chief executives Sidney Levy and Xavier Gonzalez during the Project Review meeting ©Rio 2016/Alex FerroRio 2016 and IPC chief executives Sidney Levy and Xavier Gonzalez during the Project Review meeting ©Rio 2016/Alex Ferro

Substantial concerns have been raised by figures throughout the Olympic Movement in recent weeks, with International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates even admitting preparations were the "worst he has experienced" in his long association with the Games.

In contrast, the IPC appear to be taking a more conciliatory approach as they provide an overwhelmingly positive reaction.

Although Gonzalez admitted "the issues with the construction of some of the venues are well documented", he insisted "there is now a plan in place to address the situation".

He added: "Overall, we are encouraged with the progress being made by the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and its partners who appear determined to deliver the best Paralympic Games they possibly can.

"The City Government is doing a lot to improve accessibility in the city ahead of the Games, making many kilometres of pavements and tourist attractions accessible for all.

"This is a direct consequence of Rio staging the Paralympic Games and will leave a lasting legacy for Rio residents and visitors once the Games close in September 2016.

"They are moving forward in all areas and I think the appointment of Andrew Parsons as the chair of the Paralympic Integration Committee underlines how committed the Organising Committee is to delivering a high quality Paralympic Games."

Following the visit by NPC representatives last week, the first such "Open Day" in the history of the Paralympic Movement, positive feedback was also reported by Ben Lucas, Chef de Mission of the New Zealand team.

Lucas left feeling "assured that Rio is on track to deliver a great Games in 2016" and was "particularly impressed with the Paralympic Village, which will have its own distinct atmosphere and accessible facilities".

Despite the fact construction is yet to begin in the second major Games hub in Deodoro, where three Paralympic and seven Olympic disciplines will be held, he also claimed "construction concerns have decreased as we saw evidence of progress across the sporting venues as well as transport infrastructure".

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