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Paul McCartney song starts Paralympics on 100-day countdown to kickoff

4,400 athletes to take part when games begin in Paris on Aug. 28
FILE - The padded hands of Diane Roy of Canada are seen as she waits to compete in the women’ 800-meter T54 heat at the 2012 Paralympics games, on Sept. 4, 2012, in London. With an assist from Paul McCartney, the Paralympic Games starts its 100-day race Monday to the opening ceremony in Paris in August. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

With an assist from Paul McCartney the Paralympic Games starts its 100-day race on Monday to the opening ceremony in Paris in August.

The former Beatle has let “We All Stand Together” — the signature tune from an award-winning animated film he wrote and produced 40 years ago — be used in a promotional film for the International Paralympic Committee.

“Sir Paul really understands what we stand for as a movement and he was so generous to us,” IPC president Andrew Parsons told The Associated Press. “He was not difficult to convince, it was something that came very naturally.”

In 100 days from Monday, the Summer Paralympics opening ceremony on Aug. 28 will play out along a section of the Champs-Élysées and Place de la Concorde. The 4,400 athletes taking part will compete over the following 11 days watched by up to 2.7 million spectators in venues including ones beneath the Eiffel Tower and at Versailles Palace.

“We have probably the most famous avenue in the world,” Parsons said in a recent interview. “That is really exciting. The city is really embracing Paralympic athletes, athletes with disabilities.”

“With our games we talk a lot about inclusion and it’s a good symbol of that. That very welcoming attitude is I think a very good start to our games.”

A turning point for the Paralympic movement came in London in 2012 when the host country rose to the occasion with huge ticket sales and a radically fresh approach to broadcasting it by Britain’s Channel 4.

“Still the benchmark games of our movement,” said Parsons, whose home nation Brazil hosted in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

To promote those Rio Paralympics, Channel 4 produced the “We’re the Superhumans” musical film that was a landmark of high-production values and inspirational images.

“Many broadcasters come to us in their preparations in different parts of the world and they normally ask, ‘What is Channel 4 doing?’” Parsons said. The IPC’s trailer inspired by McCartney’s “Rupert and the Frog Song” film is in that tradition.

The Paris Paralympics will have a record 164 broadcasters worldwide covering 549 events across 22 sports.

Beyond the field of play, the Paralympics has the aim — and past achievements — of changing society, especially in the host nation.

In France and Paris, Parsons, acknowledged, “there still is a lot of work to do when it comes to the mindset of the people and their perceptions of persons with disability.

“It has progressed since they got the games in 2017 but still there is a long way to go. And it doesn’t finish with the closing ceremony.”

Two weeks after the Paralympics close on Sept. 8 the United Nations hosts a global meeting Parsons hopes can drive change.

At the Summit of the Future on Sept. 22-23 the UN will measure progress towards its 17 sustainable development goals.

“We do believe our movement has, in terms of persons of disability been a little bit left behind, if you compare to other human rights movements such as gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity,” Parsons said. “They have been more preeminent in the big debates at the highest possible level.

“We believe that these (Paris) games will be able to really remind global leaders that there is 1.2 billion persons with disabilities out there that need to be included in those conversations.”

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Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press