There has been considerable discussion over the past few weeks regarding the question of whether the Olympics and the Paralympics should become one event.
On one side of the coin there is the argument that that for true inclusivity there should be one Games rather than two separate events. One point to consider on this side of the argument is the fact that there is still a massive funding gap between Olympic and Paralympic athletes. If the games were to become combined there is the possibility that funding opportunities for Paralympic athletes might increase, which can only be a positive thing.
On the flip side there are several things to think about. Logistically can the two events occur concurrently? The time between the two events gives organisers time to adapt the venues to best suit disabled athletes. Would these adaptations be possible if things ran together? The international Paralympic Committee president said “It’s really a logistical problem at the moment but I’m not dead against the idea, in principle, of them coming together at some time.”
Then there is the amount of additional events fighting for TV coverage and venue space. When questioned about this topic Dame Kelly Holmes recognised that ‘there has been no unique way of bringing these games together.’ It is not just the public who are divided on this subject. Athletes also differ in their opinions and not all Paralympians and Olympians feel like it would be beneficial to amalgamate the Games.
While I can understand the concerns people feel at the two events being separate I personally feel that the two events are fantastic independent entities and should remain so. These sporting events are different to each other and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They have different backgrounds, their country of origin is different and their reason for starting was different. If separate the two events can maintain their own heritage which I feel is important. I also feel it would be a logistical impossibility to combine the two.
I do however feel that there is still inequality when it comes to support and funding for Paralympic athletes. While this is improving and is less notable in Great Britain in comparison to many other countries there is still more than a hop, skip and a jump to go in terms of fairness.
Currently people seem to be on a ‘high’ about disability sport due to the Paralympics, but what about now it has finished? Sport for disabled people still needs to evolve and needs to become accessible to all disabled people locally and regionally. Sports should be as ‘natural’ to disabled people as it is to people who aren’t disabled. We are quite advanced on this front but as things advance further a more successful merger could take place. I don’t feel we are quite there yet.
Whatever the future holds for our Paralympians and our Olympians I think London 2012 will be remembered as a Games that was inspirational. To all who doubted the UK’s ability to produce an amazing summer of sport I hope you have done your penance of either eating your hat or perhaps even worse than that that you should train for a marathon instead!