Olympic and Paralympic Games on the road towards greater equality, conclude UCL Games experts panel
16 August 2012
London 2012 has made positive steps towards greater equalities between the Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to a panel debate hosted by University College London, but opinion was still divided over whether the Games should be run as one big event.
The panel, who discussed whether the Olympic and Paralympic Games should be merged and how this should look to ensure equality, concluded that despite the many issues being raised, the Games were heading towards increased equality.
Mark Dyer, Accessible Transport Manager at the London 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority, was positive about the discussion on merging the Games, saying: “We’re all talking about it, not just here in this room, but it has been talked about by politicians, the IPC and it is on the agenda, it is on the table, and that is the first time that this has happened. People saying ‘yes maybe it can work’ is a huge step forward.
“It might be ten years down the line, but it’s a big step. Anything can be done with logistics, with planning, it costs money, it takes time and the key thing is you make sure it is sustainable at the end of it.”
As this debate was held just a day after the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony and before the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, it could be only be guess-work as to how successful the Paralympic Games would be. However, positive interest can already be seen with record ticket sales, high numbers of volunteers signed up and positive media coverage.
Channel 4 will be the official broadcaster for the Paralympic Games aiming to make history, broadcasting more than 400 hours of live coverage, substantially more than shown in previous Games. They also offer a tool to explain complex Paralympic classifications, the Lexi Decoder.
Chief Marketing & Communications Officer from Channel 4 Dan Brooke attended the debate and spoke of his hope for the best Paralympic Games yet.
Mark Dyer said: “Channel Four can make this Games different. It is as big, in the end of it, as the Olympic Games, as many people will want to watch it in venues or on the TV. That’s a big step forward for us. If we can do that, we can show that it is an equal event and then you can start to think they have an equal billing, they should have an equal sound bite of time together on the stage.”
After the debate Dr P David Howe, former Paralympian and Senior Lecturer in Anthropology of Sport at Loughborough University, celebrated the turnout at Senate House, saying: “I thought the only person watching this today would be my mother through the web, I think that progress will be made by some of the individuals in the audience and anyone who was here can go away and reflect upon it and that is hugely positive.
“A way forward can be sought, whether it means the Paralympic and Olympic Games move together or whether they stay separate; the interest here today really excites me.”
Prof Nora Groce, Director of the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre echoed these words, saying: “I think that we need an on-going dialogue, so one debate won’t make progress, but a number of debates like this are what is needed. Hopefully this will foster a number of different debates in the future.”
The event formed part of UCL's series of talks, exhibitions and discussions inspired by the London 2012 Games. You can watch the debate in full below and hear the speakers' views directly.
By Ruth Faulkner
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