The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced that Jitske Visser has been elected as Chairperson of the IPC Athletes’ Council for the next three years.
Visser takes over the role of Chairperson from Canadian Chelsey Gotell, who was elected to the Council in 2017. The 29-year-old, who won gold with the Netherlands Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, was elected to the IPC Athletes’ Council in September.
The IPC Athletes’ Council is a group of elected athlete representatives who act as the collective voice of Paralympic and Para athletes within the IPC and the greater Paralympic Movement. Its role is to provide feedback and advice, and report to the IPC Governing Board on behalf of and in the interest of the athletes in all IPC matters. The Chair is elected by their fellow Athletes’ Council members.
A four-time Paralympian, Visser’s first Paralympic Games as an athlete was at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, where aged just 15 she was the youngest member of the Dutch delegation. She won bronze with the Netherlands Women’s basketball team at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Her finest moment came at Tokyo 2020 when the Netherlands beat China 50-31 in the gold medal match. Her Netherlands team are also the reigning world champions.
The IPC Athletes’ Council is made up of nine athletes in total, which includes the six summer athletes and three winter athletes. The five summer sport members in addition to Visser are: Martina Caironi (Italy, Para Athletics), Daniel Dias (Brazil, Para Swimming), Omara Durand Elias (Cuba, Para Athletics), Takayuki Suzuki (Japan, Para Swimming), and Zahra Nemati (Iran, Para Archery). The three winter sport council members are Marie Bochet (France, Para Alpine Skiing), Birgit Skarstein (Norway, Para Nordic Skiing), and Rudolf Klemetti (Finland, Para Nordic Skiing).
In addition to the nine elected members, the IPC Athletes’ Council can co-opt up to three additional members on two-year terms, to ensure there is balance between gender, regions, sports and disability groups, Paralympic.org reported.
Zahra Nemati, Iranian archer who won her third consecutive gold medal at a Paralympic Games in Tokyo, said “Athletes with disabilities are capable individuals who laugh in the face of world challenges. I want to be a loud voice of these strong individuals in IPC and all around the world.”