Gonzalez departs as IPC plans a new strategic direction
By Callum Murray
The International Paralympic Committee today announced the departure of Xavier Gonzalez, its chief executive, who is leaving after 17 years in what the IPC called “the next stage in its business evolution.”
The 59-year-old Gonzalez said that he had been working towards stepping down in 2021, but “after discussions with the board in January and having achieved pretty much everything I wanted to with the organisation, it became clear that now is the right time for a change of leadership.”
He added that the IPC’s governing board “will embark on a new strategic direction and look to maximise the established opportunities out there.”
The IPC today declined to reveal details of the new strategy, ahead of a planned launch in about six weeks' time, but said that the IPC will become "more of a membership organisation, serving the needs of its members and focusing on its impact on society." Gonzalez's departure comes after he has "taken the IPC as far as it's gone. It was led by the board, but Xavier is in agreement."
Gonzalez will be replaced as interim chief executive by Mike Peters, who joined the IPC in 2015 as chief of staff before becoming chief operating officer in 2018.
Andrew Parsons, the IPC’s president, said that the IPC “will soon be appointing a recruitment firm to lead the search for a new CEO as the IPC embarks on a new and exciting phase in its evolution.”
The IPC said: “When Gonzalez joined the IPC, the Bonn-based organisation was on the brink of bankruptcy and employed less than 10 people. On 22 March 2019 he will leave an organisation that now employs 115 people across all departments and regularly turns over more than €20 million [$23 million] each year.
“During his time at the IPC, Gonzalez has overseen eight editions of the Paralympic Games, working closely with organising committees to drive rapid growth in spectator numbers, TV audiences and athletic performance.
“The Athens 2004 Paralympics were his first at the IPC and they were a games that attracted 850,000 fans and drew a cumulative global TV audience of 1.8 billion in 25 countries. In comparison, Rio 2016 saw 2.15 million tickets sold and smashed all broadcast records, drawing a cumulative TV audience of 4.1 billion in more than 150 countries.
“The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games broke every record in the book, attracting more athletes, countries and spectators than ever before, as well as drawing more international viewers than previous editions.”
In October last year, the IPC signed Bridgestone, the Japanese tyre giant, as its seventh top-tier worldwide Paralympic partner.
Bridgestone was already a top-tier ‘TOP’ partner of the Olympic Games through to 2024, and the new deal gave it global rights to promote and support the Paralympic movement over the same period.
The move followed a renewal of the co-operation agreement between the International Olympic Committee and the IPC under which, from 2021, all top-tier Olympics sponsors will also have rights to the Paralympics, albeit there remains scope for Paralympics-only partners.
The worldwide Paralympic partners are: Atos, Ottobock, Panasonic, Samsung, Toyota, Visa and Bridgestone.
Before joining the IPC, Gonzalez held Paralympic-related roles within the Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2002 and Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Games organising committees.