The International Olympic and Paralympic Committees are constantly aiming to further the Paralympic Movement around the world. Last week, their commitment showed again when the IOC appointed three-time U.S. Paralympian Ann Cody, a member-at-large on the IPC governing board, to the PyeongChang 2018 Coordination Commission.
She is the only Paralympic representative on the commission, which includes IOC member Angela Ruggiero, a retired four-time U.S. Olympian in ice hockey.
Recently, Cody served on the evaluation commission for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which was awarded to PyeongChang, Korea, in 2011. As a part of the evaluation commission, she visited the bidding cities (Munich, Germany, Annecy, France and PyeongChang, Korea) and reported on her findings. She made sure there was representation of the Paralympic Movement in the process of awarding the Games.
“Being on the evaluation commission has allowed me to bring some institutional memory. I was present for the bids and was able to ensure the commitment to the Paralympics was being filled at all angles,” Cody said of her role in her new appointment.
Like the evaluation commission, the coordination commission is IOC driven, so Cody’s involvement is vital for Paralympic Movement and its integration with the Olympic Movement. The two movements are separate but parallel.
One of her top priorities with coordination commission is to ensure the accessibility of the Paralympic Winter Games, and implement general functionality, to provide the best possible experience for athletes.
While accessibility is a top priority, the commission is also trying to put Paralympic awareness in the forefront.
“The biggest improvement with the Paralympics is in broadcasting,” said Cody, who is the vice-chair of the United States Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Advisory Committee. “We've increased the people it reached and the number of rights holders, which is very positive because it boosts the number of viewers.
“The London 2012 Paralympics furthered the exposure with its strong broadcasting. The information spread about the Games, how to get tickets and fans were able to get to know athletes, ultimately familiarizing the population with Paralympics and increasing viewers’ support.”
Cody believes a comfortable atmosphere as well as solid support from viewers and fans is what drives athletes to perform their best.
After competing in three Paralympic Games (1984 in wheelchair basketball and 1988 and 1992 in track and field), Cody understands athlete perspective and will include that insight in her work for the coordination commission.
“I can give a 360 degree reference point from having competed in the Games, working for the IPC and my involvement with the advisory committee," she said. "I want to be as helpful and relevant as possible in order to make things go smoothly."
She is also a key player in U.S. international affairs from her extensive experience with BlazeSports' governmental and international programs.
Cody is the only person with a physical disability to serve on the coordination commission. She aims to utilize her unique expertise with Paralympic sport, as an athlete and leader, to assure an efficient and well-organized PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games that leaves a lasting impression across the world.
The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, March 7-16, 2014, in Sochi, Russia, aims to be the largest Winter Games on record, with nearly 700 athletes competing in 72 medal events. PyeongChang already hopes to surpass that.
Cody, the highest ranking female in the Paralympic Movement, served as the venue director for the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Organizing Committee. She has been a vital member of the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games’ legacy organization, BlazeSports, since its beginning. Cody volunteered with BlazeSports, a Paralympic Sport Club, and was promoted to director of policy and global outreach in 2007.
“My roles consist of a combination of skills with all members,” said Cody. “Every member brings expertise to reach all resources, and we all try to focus on Paralympic promotion using our knowledge and backgrounds.”
Since being involved with BlazeSports, Cody has also been busy as a member of the 10 elected IPC Governing Board members.