Have you ever heard the word “Paralympics?” Olympics for the disabled is another way to describe the Paralympics, which might be more familiar. Not only is the word Paralympic unfamiliar to the majority, but also people’s lack of interest is a big problem. It is true that the Olympics are a worldwide festival that everyone is looking forward to. In contrast, the Paralympics are relatively ignored. Abnormally, the 2012 London Paralympics was successful unlike other Paralympics, but the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics is going out into the cold. Less than 10,000 tickets have been sold, and public relations are not doing well. The reason why people lack interest in the Paralympics is because there are many people who don’t know what the Paralympics are. Then, what do athletes do in the Paralympics? What are the differences between the Olympic Games and the Paralympics? Let's try to solve the curiosity of the Paralympics!
1. What are the Paralympics?
The Paralympics are the event modelled on the Olympic Games and it is held solely for disabled competitors by the International Paralympics Committee (IPC). It is hosted every four years in the same country that holds the Olympics. It was coined mixing two words "paraplegia" and "Olympic", but the extent of the body was expanded to include all the disabled. Afterward, the Paralympics are regarded to have a meaning of ‘parallel’ to emphasis that they are not different from ordinary people.
Everyone knows what the Olympic flag looks like. Then, what is the logo that stands for the Paralympic Games? It is “Agitos” which means, “I am moving” in Latin. The logo consists of three colors(red, blue, and green) and they are the colors most commonly used in flags around the world. Agitos, which means advancing constantly bearing up under an adversity, is a symbol of harmony and competition. It also matches with the mentality of the disabled national athletes who participate in the Paralympic Games.
c. Origin & History
Since the 1880s in the UK, there has been a sports competition for people who have lost their lower limbs. With the help of artificial limbs, they could play games. In 1948, Ludwig Guttmann, the director of the National Center for Spinal Disorders at Stoke Mandeville Hospital of London, organized the event. He gathered 26 people suffering from paraplegia and held a competition. This became the start of the Paralympics and in 1952, the Dutch archery team joined the competition and it therefore became an international competition.
Since then, it has been held in London every July, and after the first Paralympics Games in Rome, Italy in 1960, it started to be hosted every 4 years. From the fourth Heidelberg Paralympics in 1972, all the disabled were allowed to participate. In 1976, the first Winter Paralympic Games were held in Sweden. Every two years, the summer and winter Paralympics have been held alternately, just like the Olympics. In the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the Paralympic Games were held in the city where the Olympic Games were held within a month after the Olympics ended.
2. Sport Entries
There are 22 events in the Summer Paralympics, including wheelchair basketball, cycling and track, while there are fewer games in the Winter Paralympics. The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics includes 80 gold medals in six events: alpine skiing, cross-country, biathlon, snowboarding, ice hockey, and wheelchair curling.
a. Top of the snow
Depending on the types of disorders, there are three categories: Visual Disability (B1-B3), Stand-up (LW1-LW9), and Sedentary (LW10-LW12). There are detailed events called Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, Slalom and Super Combined. The cross-country events which are known as “marathons on the snow” are similar to that of the Olympic Games, and is divided into the Sedentary (LW10-LW12), Stand-up (LW2- LW9), and Visual Disability (B1-B3). The disabled biathlon is a match combining cross-country skiing and shooting. Snowboarding, which was first adopted as a detailed event of alpine skiing in 2014, will be held for the first time in history as a formal event in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics.
b. On the ice
Ice hockey in the Paralympics was modified to allow disabled people to participate in the game. Instead of skates, players ride a double-bladed sled. To propel the sled they use a “pick” and to deal with the puck, a “pole” is also needed. Wheelchair curling is an event that has been loved for a long time in Europe and North America and only mixed-gender teams can take part in the competition.
3. Effects of the Paralympics
a. Successful example: 2012 London Paralympics
The tickets for the 2012 London Paralympics were all sold out and it is the thing that even London Olympics failed to do. Thanks to the government-led promotion of the nation's leading public relations organizations, 2,700,000 tickets have been sold and the organizing committee had also begun selling additional tickets. The more surprising thing is that the perception toward the disabled in British society had been changed due to the success of the London Summer Paralympics. According to a survey conducted after the finale of the contest, about 33% of adults in the UK answered their attitudes toward disabled people have been changed. Furthermore, 81% also assessed that the Paralympics have changed perceptions about disabled people positively. The British government also raised the welfare level of the disabled, including significantly increasing the number of disabled cultural consultants and infrastructure to support them. Likewise, the Paralympic Games can bring positive ripple effects as well as the Olympics.
b. How about Pyeongchang...?
Right after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the Paralympics will be held from March 9th to 18th. However, there is a great scarcity of the public interest. Tickets for the admission to the Paralympic Games were 220,000, but only about 9,000 tickets have been sold. The lack of publicity is one of the causes, but currently the PR agency promoting the Paralympic Winter Games has no independent organization for the Paralympic Games. It is difficult to find images related to the Paralympics on the YouTube Channel “Pyeongchang 2018”. The real success of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics includes both the Olympics and the Paralympics. The success of the Paralympic Games will serve as an opportunity for Korea to become an advanced country. Furthermore, it will be a driving force for our society to develop into a society where all of us are united without discrimination and prejudice
Until now, disabled people have been considered only to be given care, while competition was the word that goes for those without disabilities. However, the disabled can compete with each other through the Paralympics and feel the sense of fair play and achievement. Furthermore, they can change the attitudes of people around them. Having a disability does not mean that there is no enthusiasm for sports. The Paralympic Games with competition, their sweat, tears, and energy, can move people and break prejudices toward the disabled. Why don't you cheer for the athletes' dreams at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics to become like the sacred-torch relay slogan, “Let Everyone Shine?”< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >