And following its success, there have been calls for greater integration between the Olympics and Paralympics. Currently, they are held as separate events in the host cities of the Games, with the Paralympic Games following the Olympic Games.
But members of the parasport and Paralympic community have said The flow conversations around incorporation fail to address a few key factors.
“I’m proud to be a Paralympian”
“Sometimes people call me an Olympian and think that’s a compliment. I don’t take that as a compliment. I’m proud to be a Paralympian.”
Australian three-time Paralympic medalist Sarah Stewart says a merger could dilute the message of the Paralympic Games. Credit: Sport the library/© Sport the library
Her memories of competing at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games are pure bliss. She remembers it as a time when sport, as well as disability, was celebrated.
“You’re in this big, beautiful environment that for a few weeks is all about sports and people with disabilities,” Stewart said.
Sometimes people call me an Olympic athlete and think that’s a compliment. I don’t take that as a compliment. I am proud to be a Paralympian.
Wheelchair basketball player Sarah Stewart
“How would you do it?” ” She adds. “Comm Games, while it looks big, is actually a relatively small event, so you can have that mix in there.”
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt celebrates with the crowd after his team won gold in the 4x100m relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Strath Gordon, head of communications at the Australian Olympic Committee, agrees.
“The Paralympic Games are proudly independent as an event in their own right.”
The History of Parasport at the Commonwealth Games
Since then, the program has grown with each Games. Birmingham added wheelchair basketball and triathlon to the mix this year, taking it to eight Paralympic sports. But it’s still more limited than the last Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which had 22 sports.
Dilute the message and stunt growth
As interest in para-sport has grown and the integration into the Commonwealth Games has been hailed for raising the profile of para-athletes, the International Paralympic Committee said last Sunday that a merger with the Olympics could jeopardize this growth.
Dylan Alcott reacts after winning gold in the men’s singles wheelchair tennis match at the Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games. Credit: JEFF CROW/PR IMAGE
International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence told the BBC the current agreement with the International Olympic Committee “serves us well”.
“It’s a conversation that comes up regularly, but you have to see if it makes sense to bring the two Games together and at the moment we think it doesn’t.”
Two different events, two different stories
Disability Sports Australia CEO Murray Elbourn said The flow it was great to see Para sport integrated into mainstream sports at the Commonwealth Games and to prove that it can be cohesive. But the Paralympic and Olympic Games are not the events for that.
Thomas Guthrie (left) and Thomas Wann of the Great Britain basketball team,training for the 7th International Games in Stoke Mandeville. The event later became what we know to be the Paralympic Games. Credit: Fred Morley/Getty Images
“It’s this communal perception of inclusion, which we sometimes struggle with in the disability space to get the general public to understand, from a disability perspective, why it’s important to have a secular event,” said said Mr. Elbourn.
“At national games, college games, school games, getting everyone together often works really well.”