Board members of the United States Olympic Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to change the body’s name to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
The name change and branding will apply to everything involved with the organization. That will include signage at the Colorado Springs-based headquarters and training center to the now-renamed United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum under construction.
“While the name is new, our dedication to Paralympics is an established value, evidenced by the number of Paralympic athletes who receive support and by the strength of the U.S. Paralympic Team,” said Board Chair Susanne Lyons.
The USOPC said American paralympians have been competing since the 1960 games in Rome, with 24 athletes. That increased to 73 athletes earning 36 medals at the PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games last year.
Speaking on a conference call with reporters, eight-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters said she and generations of others have been fighting for such a change. She said it symbolized a lot more than just a new name.
"The USOPC is truly embodying the inclusion of Paralympic athletes and fully incorporating then, including them and celebrating them,” she said.
The United States is one of four countries to run both its Olympic and Paralympic teams through one committee, said Andrew Parsons, the president of the International Paralympic Committee.
That has been the case in the U.S. for years, but Parsons, who is Brazilian, said he believes formalizing that relationship in the new name could serve as a catalyst for increasing enthusiasm for the Paralympic games, especially those in Los Angeles in 2028.
“The U.S. is one of the most important markets, if not the most important market when it comes to sport,” Parsons said, adding American influence often spreads internationally.
“It’ll be a game changer for our movement,” he said.
The name change was made during a week in which members of Colorado’s congressional delegation are pushing for more oversight for the organization in the wake of the sexual assault scandal involving former national gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar.