Changing parasport landscape and the evolution of the International Paralympic Committee governance


International sport governing bodies that regulate world sports claim a variety of governance structures, mechanisms and functions. These sport organisations, through appropriate structures, rules and regulations, and ethical decision-making and processes, are responsible for governing sports in a transparent manner (Geeraert, Alm and Groll, 2014). Some of these organisations make public their missions, visions, objectives and functional statements for public consumption (Forster, 2006). Typically, their functions comprise some subset of activities such as developing the laws, policies and rules of a sport and its competitions; organising international/global sporting events and tournaments; facilitating and advancing the global development of a sport at all levels; providing guidance and caring for the welfare of athletes within a sport (Chelladurai and Zintz, 2015; Forster, 2006). Further, these organisations also serve as the main sites for the ‘arbitration and/or resolution of disputes within a sport’ (Forster, 2006, p. 72) and foster and maintain relationships with a list of external stakeholders, including national sport associations, governments, regulatory authorities and business entities (e.g. commercial sponsors; Forster, 2006). How international sport governing bodies achieve this varies somewhat and is often reflective of the overall context in which the sporting environment is conceived and evolving (Edwards, Mason and Washington, 2009; Kikulis, 2000).

Within existing research on the governance of international sport governing bodies, much attention has been paid to examining the organisation and structure of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) (e.g. Chappelet, 2008; Geeraert, Alm and Groll, 2014; Leopkey and Parent, 2012; Mason, Thibault and Misener, 2006). Relatively little is known about the governance and management of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The IPC, as the global governing body of the Paralympic movement, is responsible for convening both the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games. The IPC also serves as the international federation for a number of sports (e.g. para swimming, para ice hockey — discussed later) and helps stage and organise associated world championships and competitions for people with disabilities (IPC Annual Report, 2007). From the beginning the IPC has had a dual purpose of serving 'Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence’ (ibid., p. 14), while also providing and improving sporting opportunities for all para-athletes from the grassroots to the elite level (IPC Annual Report, 2007). Further, the 1PC aims to promote the Paralympic values, which include ‘courage, determination, inspiration and equality’ (IPC Strategic Plan, 2015b, p. 9). In the case of the IPC, the governance structure has evolved over time to reflect the changing landscape of disability sport (parasport hereafter) globally. Further, their relationship with other organisations such as the IOC has evolved and influenced the governance structure.

In this chapter, we examine the evolution of this governance structure of the IPC, focusing on organisational structure and design to demonstrate how the changing environment of governance has influenced and is influenced by the evolving parasport field. While the IPC has attempted to remain a distinct global sport organisation, we noted the tendency of the IPC to imitate the IOC’s governance and management structures throughout its history. We reflect on four distinct phases of governance for the IPC: (1) initial formation; (2) professionalisation; (3) separation of management and governance; and (4) streamlining. Our aim is to reflect how governance has evolved overtime to meet the needs of a changing global sport organisation and the landscape of parasport governance.

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