IPC President Andrew Parsons believes people with disabilities have been "left behind" in society ©Getty Images

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons claims people with disabilities have been "left behind" and believes the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will play a key role in changing the way they are treated in society.

Parsons has previously stressed that this year’s Paralympics - delayed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic - are the “most important” in the event’s history.

The Games are due to open next Tuesday (August 24) with about 4,400 athletes from around the world arriving in the Japanese capital to compete across 22 sports over 12 days.

Parsons believes the global health crisis has highlighted inequalities in society and is confident the Paralympics will push people with disabilities to the front of the agenda.

"Persons with disabilities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic around the world," said Parsons.

"Different societies across the world have failed to protect them, have failed to provide them with the necessary services to protect them from the pandemic.

"We believe persons with disabilities have been left behind.

"That is why these Games are not just important to have, but they are needed from the perspective of the 1.2 billion (disabled) persons around the world."

Tokyo's Rainbow Bridge was one of a host of landmarks that illuminated in purple around the world to celebrate the launch of the WeThe15 movement ©Getty Images
Tokyo's Rainbow Bridge was one of a host of landmarks that illuminated in purple around the world to celebrate the launch of the WeThe15 movement ©Getty Images

Parsons’ comments come after the launch of the "WeThe15" movement which aims to end discrimination against people with disabilities.

New York’s Empire State Building, Rome’s Colosseum and the London Eye were among more than 125 landmarks from around the world that lit up in purple to celebrate the start of the global campaign.

The Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and Rainbow Bridge were also illuminated in the Japanese capital.

Multiple international organisations, including the IPC, are uniting in a bid to transform the lives of 1.2 billion people with disabilities.

Other organisations include the International Disability Alliance, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, and the UN Alliance of Civilizations.

The Special Olympics, Invictus Games, the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf and the IPC are also collaborating for the first time.

A 90-second-long campaign film has also been produced which is set to be played out during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

"Looking into the future, we recognise that there is still a lot to be done if we want to achieve the full inclusion of more than a billion persons we represent," said Ana Lucia Arellano, chairperson of the International Disability Alliance.

"We need new creative and innovative approaches, and we need much broader coalition to achieve that.

"WeThe15 has a unique opportunity and responsibility to achieve exactly that - to be a platform where more and new actors will come together making the ‘Nothing about us without us’ a real change for all persons with disabilities."