This evening, in Vancouver, there will be the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Paralympics. I am sure everyone here will try to make these “Olympics” fun and worthwhile but it is, let’s be honest, so very second class.
Most of the public facilities set up for the Winter Olympics are gone or closed, and the international media has gone off to cover Formula One racing or skeet shooting in Dubai. Even Canada’s own Globe & Mail has no story on the Paralympics on their website today. Television coverage will be hit or miss, and certainly without the wall-to-wall broadcasting we had a couple of weeks ago. None of the medals Canada wins over the next few days will count towards the Own The Podium campaign.
If I were a differently-abled athlete, I wouldn’t bother showing up.
The only way to end this degrading of “handicapped” athletes into second class citizens is to make sure that the Paralympics and the Olympics themselves are merged into a single event. It may add a day or two to the “ordinary event” but so what? It will bring these sports and athletes together with the rest of the sporting community, and it will garner these sports wide TV coverage. How can there be any downside to this? Certainly no downside that could possibly compete with the new respect these men and women would get.
Failure to bring these Games together will probably never happen while petty kings such as Jacques Rogge and the other mediocrities on the IOC are still in charge. But that failure should weigh heavily on any legacy they hope to project into the future.