The European Para Championships will come to Rotterdam in 2023. For the first time, the European Championships of ten different parasports will be organized simultaneously in one host city. What is extra innovative, is that several sportsfinals will be played at ‘city center courts’, in the heart of Rotterdam. In other words, parasport will come to the people this summer.
The Road to Paris 2024
The multisport event will take place from Tuesday 8 to Sunday 20 August 2023, and will combine ten different para sports: Para Cycling, Para Archery, Para Badminton, Wheelchair Tennis, Boccia, Goalball, Wheelchair Basketball, Judo, Shooting Para Sport, and Para Taekwondo. During the European Para Championships, athletes will not only battle for golden medals, but also for Paralympic Qualifying Points, or direct qualification for the 2024 Paris Paralympics.
Jeroen Straathof Tournament Director
The organizing committee proudly announces that Jeroen Straathof has been appointed as Tournament Director. Straathof is an ex-speed skater (Olympic Winter Games, 1994), and Track Cyclist (Olympic Summer Games, 2004). He also became Paralympic Champion in the 4km Pursuit (tandem, Cycling) as pilot of the Dutch para sportsman Jan Mulder. The 50-year-old inhabitant of the city of Leiden will be the face, and voice, of the European Para Championships.
Straathof states the following: “I am excited to start in service of this tournament. Bringing these beautiful para sports together in one tournament will cause a flywheel effect. We will give the para sports the attention they deserve by making connections, dreaming big, and taking chances where others only see limitations.”
“I was active at the Paralympics of Sydney in 2000, but this is the first time that this many para sports will come to the people, instead of bringing the people to the para sports. The European Para Championships is unique in this aspect. Also, Rotterdam is the perfect host city for this. This element is appealing to me, and one of the strengths of this sport event of the highest level”, states Jeroen Straathof.
Rotterdam Ahoy and the city center courts
The ‘Main hub’ for this event will be Rotterdam Ahoy. The venue is very well known among the ‘biggest on earth’ since 1971. They offer a base for international artists, top sports professionals, politicians and celebrities. But also at several outdoor locations in Rotterdam will be battled for the medals. The Finals of Para Archery will be held at de Kop van Zuid, and the best Wheelchair Tennis players will battle at Schouwburgplein. By using these ”City Center Courts”, the organization will bring the para sports to the people and will present the sports to the visitors and locals, in a unique way.
The Netherlands as a model country
The Dutch Government fully supports this initiative. Minister of Long-term Care and Sport Conny Helder explains: “Top sport inspires. In the Netherlands, we want to give para sports the international platform they deserve. This way, more people will be reached by the inspiring value of these sports. This affects everyone, with or without limitations. Recently, I visited the Wheelchair Tennis Masters, in Oss, where I saw the top sport of the highest level. Very impressive and inspiring to experience from up close.”
This event in Rotterdam will be the kick-off of a new legacy. The European Para Championships will be a recurring event. Aside from the event in 2023, the organization is building toward a sustainable concept, which will serve as the foundation for 2027, 2031, and so on. The event will be returning to the European Sports Calendar in each year preceding the Paralympic Games.
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