The paradox concerning disability sports : exploring challenges facing the Paralympics / Kazuo Ogoura

Ogoura, Kazuo

This article analyzes the current status of, and problems related to what has been described by several researchers as the "Paralympic paradox". For example, a disabled athlete may attain success and increase their name recognition. This may result in increasing the interest of society at large in the Paralympics, disability sports events, and related activities and competitions. This process, however, implies the shift of a disabled athlete from the category of “a disabled person” to one of “an athlete” for whom “having a disability or not is irrelevant”. As a result, the athlete may be respected but oftentimes considered by many disabled people as unreachable for the very reason of his or her success. Therefore, it is not always clear whether the success of an athlete actually results in encouraging other people with disabilities to participate in sports and in expanding the base of participants in disability sports. To put it another way, the moment a disabled athlete “overcomes disability”, the association the athlete has with “disability” becomes weaker. More generally, this article also looks at the gaps and disparities found in the Paralympics and disability sports from the perspective of: disparity between medalists and non-medalists; divergence between “athletes” and people with disabilities in general; disparity among different types of disabilities; the relationship between disability organizations and disability sports organizations; disparity between national and local governments; disparity between men and women; and disparity among countries.

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Selection : Zoom Paralympic Games

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