Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Winter Paralympics

The 12th Winter Paralympic Games will take place in PeyongChang, South Korea, March 9-18, 2018. The games will start with Opening Ceremonies on Friday the 9th, and continue over the next 9 days. 550 disabled athletes from 49 countries will compete in six events:

Alpine skiing
Cross-country skiing
Ice sledge hockey
Wheelchair curling

Paralympic Games are the pinnacle of competitive sports for people with disabilities. They run concurrently with both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games every four years, usually about two weeks after and at the same location and using the same facilities.

PeyongChang 2018 Paralympic Games logoSimilar to the Olympics themselves, the Paralympics are exciting, inspiring, informative ... and occasionally controversial. One of the aims of the Paralympics is to show the world what people with various disabilities can do in competitive athletics, with the right adaptations and determination. Each Paralympics fosters high hopes for further transforming attitudes towards people with disabilities in general throughout the world.

At the same time, while the disability community typically enjoys and celebrates the Paralympics as a showcase for disability sports and disabled athletes, there is an undercurrent of concern about exactly what messages about disability are received by the viewing public. Some are concerned that showcasing Paralympians as examples of disability achievement sends a distorted message, that disabled people can literally do anything if given the chance. While this is in a sense true, most disabled people have complex needs and face barriers in society that make simple independent living a genuine challenge.

Also, in recent years there has been some debate within disability sports about how disabled athletes are qualified and categorized based on their precise impairments. Some excellent athletes are always left out because of minute deviations in their actual disabilities, and efforts to match people evenly and fairly can be messy.

On the positive side, broadcasters have steadily increased the number of hours of Paralympic coverage in recent years. NBC will air over 250 hours of the 2018 Winter Paralympics, which is double the coverage of the last Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. And again, similar to all the Olympics themselves, the Paralympics tends to transcend it’s controversies, reservations, and social critiques ... no matter how valid ... as the sheer spectacle and fun takes over.

Here are some links to help you enjoy the 2018 Winter Paralympics:

2018 Paralympics - Wikipedia

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