Are separate games for disabled people still of this time?

Paralympian swimmer

By Gregory – The London 2012 Olympic Games are over. Athletes are back home, the Olympic flame is extinguished and the Olympic flag has found its way to its new home in Rio de Janeiro.

Happy and Glorious, thats how International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge described the London 2012 Games. Most will agree that these games have been a succes in many aspects. These games will enter the history books as being well organised with thousands of volunteers, the British army and an over enthusiastic public praised particularly highly. 32 world records were broken during these games and there were 70 Olympic records. Micheal Phelps became the most decorated Olympic athlete, winning his 22nd medal. The Jamaican Bolt became the first sprinter to retain all three sprinting gold medals since 1908. But most important these were the games where for the first time in history every participating country has sent a female competitor to at least one Olympic Games. London 2012 also became the first games at which every sport had female competitors.

Happy and Glorious for everyone? Maybe not. It strikes me that in 2012 we still need to organise seperate games for disabled people. Two weeks after the spotlight of the Olympics turned away, disabled people get a chance to perform in their own games.

A bit of history will help us understand the current situation. The Paralympic movement was founded in 1948 by the German doctor Ludwig Guttmann.  The main goal of these games was to set up competitions for disabled people. It was only from the 1960 games that the event became a truly ‘Olympic’ style sporting festival. However, the official name of Paralympic was not adopted until 1984.

The Paralympic games have not always been held at the same locations as the Olympic Games. This however changed in 1988 with the Games of Seoul. Since 2001 cities have to bid for the Olympics and Paralympics as a single package.

But why has the Olympic movement not had the courage so far to take it a step further and fully integrate the Paralympics into the Olympic Games? In the current situation the Paralympics follow approximately 2 weeks after the Olympic Games ended. Why is the IOC excluding disabled people from the otherwise so universal Olympic Games?

The Olympic and Paralympic Games share the same values and can be described with the following seven words: respect, excellence, friendship, determination, courage, inspiration and equality.

Why can the Olympic movement not show the respect disabled people diserve as a result of their determination to push the boundaries of their disability and being role models for others?

Why has the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog) not had the courage to push the Games on step further by including the Paralympics Games on a basis of equality and friendship?

I would have hoped that London as a city that has shown in the past to be ‘avant garde’ would have had the inspiration not only to ‘Inspire a generation’, the slogan behind the London 2012 games, but to ‘Inspire human kind’ and taking a leaders role in real excellence by destroying boundaries still faced by disabled people.

I can only hope that with the Paralympics starting in just a week, London and Britain in general is going to show the same enthusiasm that engulfed the country during the Olymics. I will, for sure!

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