Hello everyone, I'm Craig Spence, the International Paralympic Committee's Chief Brand & Communications Officer, and it's wonderful to be with you for this Panasonic event.

The last 12 months have been the most challenging of our lives. COVID-19 led to a historic first postponement of Olympic and Paralympic Games, and since then we've been working night and day to develop a robust plan for the safe and successful delivery of Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games this summer.

The challenge we face is like no other and in meeting it head-on we are witnessing the most monumental team effort in a totally new environment. In replanning the world's first and third biggest sporting events, many IPC and IOC colleagues are working from home, rather than their workplaces, but luckily thanks to advances in technology, teamwork can happen as well virtually as it can in person.

Now, the Paralympic Movement is no stranger to challenges. Through our work we aim to make for a more inclusive world for the world's one billion persons with disabilities who face barriers on a daily basis. By using sport as a tool to showcase the tremendous abilities of persons with disabilities, we are changing attitudes, fighting discrimination, and importantly creating opportunities for the 15% of the global population that has a disability.

Thanks to the tremendous support of our Worldwide Partners, our message of inclusion through sport is amplified to billions of people around the world. Technology helps more people engage in the Games, interact with our athlete community digitally and makes it easier for us to lead our daily lives.

Although we are going through uncertain times rights now, I look to the future with warm optimism. Today's youth are the most socially conscious generation we have ever seen. They place a strong focus on people and planet to ensure that no one is left behind. And that is why I am so excited and supportive of Panasonic's outstanding SPORTS CHANGE MAKERS initiative which embraces the IPC's vision to use sport as a tool to make for a better and more inclusive world. As we look to build back better post COVID-19, I hope the Panasonic SPORTS CHANGE MAKERS can use their boundless creativity to identify and correct some of the things that were not working in society pre-pandemic.

During the last year we have all experienced the feeling of confinement in our homes, separated from family, friends and colleagues. But for many persons with disabilities, this experience was not new, this was their lives even before COVID due to the barriers that existed in society. Let's use this opportunity to change this. Let's use the power of technology to make for a more inclusive world that is fully accessible for all.

Finally, it goes without saying that I would love to be with you all in person, but I am sure I will see you all this summer for what will be spectacular and historic Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Thank you.

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