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Paralympics: Before, During, After the Olympics


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I'd like to start a discussion on the current state of the Paralympics and what it could be in the future. Let's hash out the pros and cons of the Paralympic Games being staged before, alongside, and after the Olympics. Let's talk event logistics, impacts on media, political influence, effect on athletes, etc. There are so many angles to look at.

At first thought, I'd really like it to be staged during the Olympics, by extending the Olympic program another two weeks to accommodate Paralympic events being fully integrated throughout. I mean, "para" infers that they run parallel to the Olympics. Last time I checked, AFTER isn't "running parallel." Further analysis to come!

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On 3/3/2022 at 6:02 AM, Anthony said:

I'd like to start a discussion on the current state of the Paralympics and what it could be in the future. Let's hash out the pros and cons of the Paralympic Games being staged before, alongside, and after the Olympics. Let's talk event logistics, impacts on media, political influence, effect on athletes, etc. There are so many angles to look at.

At first thought, I'd really like it to be staged during the Olympics, by extending the Olympic program another two weeks to accommodate Paralympic events being fully integrated throughout. I mean, "para" infers that they run parallel to the Olympics. Last time I checked, AFTER isn't "running parallel." Further analysis to come!

One basic point: how practical is it to provide accommodation for all Olympic and Paralympic athletes, trainers etc. at the same time?

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On 3/2/2022 at 10:02 PM, Anthony said:

At first thought, I'd really like it to be staged during the Olympics, by extending the Olympic program another two weeks to accommodate Paralympic events being fully integrated throughout. I mean, "para" infers that they run parallel to the Olympics. Last time I checked, AFTER isn't "running parallel." Further analysis to come!

Not gonna happen.  A 17=day festival of the regular Games PLUS another, what? 12-13 days for the Paras, is already a HUGE imposition on the hosts.  Besides, the IOC and the IPC want to maintain their seprarate personalities.  Just not practical at this point.  

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I'd like to hear more from athletes and organizers: what exactly are the problems with the current format?

The current solution certainly doesn't please everyone, but it doesn't seem to be a bad solution because they align with the Olympics, while also broadcasting an important mission of their own. 

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#1 - Combining them -- WITHOUT reducing athlete attendance, that would mean housing 15,000 athletes (10,500 regs + est. 4500 Paralympians) altogether.  That alone -- not including coaches, assistants, referees, technical judges for the Paralympians, etc., etc. -  IMMEDIATELY makes this concept a NON-starter.  Find me a city that will shoulder this.  

The rest needn't even be discussed.  

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I dunno, there’s probably no easy answer. I’ve argued here in the past that at present they’re just an afterthought to the main games likely not noticed by anyone but games aficionados and maybe the host country. And maybe staging them ahead of the Olympics could give them some status as an appetiser and full scale test event for the main games. But then again, could that lessen some of the impact and sunrises of the senor Olympics?

And that’s the problem - adjectives like afterthought or appetiser. For all that the paras are a noble, worthwhile cause and people can refer to them as inspiring or the “real heroes”, on their own disabled sport isn’t a drawcard. There’s just far less attraction or enthusiasm to watch them than tuning in for the world’s “best of the best”.  At the moment, the paras only really achieve the profile they do by sharing some of the spotlight and reflected glory from the main games. 

In a idealistic world, it probably would be a noble ambition to integrate them into the Olympics - the Commonwealth Games already does it, albeit I don’t think with a full schedule, just a few select events. But I agree that logistically and technically that’s probably a bit too much a task for a host to undertake. As has been pointed out, the pressure in increasing the capacity of the Olympic village alone makes it problematic and prohibitive, not to mention the need for downtime at venues between events. It would make what is already an enormous undertaking an even more massive mountain to climb.

At the end of the day, it’s probably best to stick with the status quo. It works, it gives the paras profile they’d otherwise not have.     

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I think the unity of the two could be strengthened in protocol adjustments of the ceremonies.

Step 1: What if at an Olympic Opening Ceremony, the cauldron is designed to hold two flames in some creative way. The Olympic-side flame is lit and the Games begin. 
Step 2: At the Olympic Closing Ceremony, the handover is not to the next Olympic host, but to the Paralympic athletes and Committee. The Olympic cauldron stays lit.
Step 3: At the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, a Paralympian lights the Paralympic side, completing the cauldron, the Games begin.
Step 4: At the Closing Ceremony, the combined cauldron is extinguished and one united handover to the next host city begins. 

It seems the problem is more about the anti-climactic "start-stop-start-stop" flow. The path of least resistance, to me, would center around making the ceremonies feel like one cohesive unit.

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Way ahead of you there.  I wrote to the late Samaranch Sr.  (I have his reply somewhere) around 1990, I think -- w/ the Paralympics not even in the Oly picture, saying that the flame and Oly flag should be passed from Summer to Winter to Summer, etc.  He wrote back saying it was an "interesting" idea but nothing came of it.  I think they want to keep them on separate tracks; some thing with the Paras.  The Olympic idea/flame is Hellenic; the Para is Aylesbury-ic.  Maybe someday, something like that can happen.  

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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I think a major problem lies with the Olympic program though. The recent excessive addition of events, each Games, is over-saturating the program. 

I'd argue it could be more feasible for a Winter edition, than a Summer edition from an athlete numbers standpoint. Also, money from the two extra ceremonies could be reallocated elsewhere.

Does anyone know of any feasibility studies for this? 

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Okay, here’s an interesting interview with a UK Paralympian on exactly the question of this thread. Interestingly, she pretty well canvases all the things mentioned in this thread, but it’s good to hear it from one in the thick of things:

Should the Paralympics and Olympics unite? We ask an expert

Edited by Sir Rols
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Combining them is a non-starter due to the volume of athletes and events involved - it would likely be detrimental to the Paralympic movement and see less exposure for their events just after all the progress made in the last decade.

Similarly the idea of them taking place before has been raised before and I think the games would suffer somewhat from the Olympics not acting as a warm up event for them.   However in practical terms for the Winter Games there is an argument they may be better off staged in January than March.

Overall the status quo is the best option for now.

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To whomever is our Paralympic expert here - question: the guide athlete for the non-seeing athlete, is that from the athlete's own home country?  So if there were 40 skiers in the blind category -- that means you really count 80 bodies, right?  So the able-bodied shadow athletes alone nearly double the Participating Athletes' count -- or are they not counted?  

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15 hours ago, baron-pierreIV said:

To whomever is our Paralympic expert here - question: the guide athlete for the non-seeing athlete, is that from the athlete's own home country?  So if there were 40 skiers in the blind category -- that means you really count 80 bodies, right?  So the able-bodied shadow athletes alone nearly double the Participating Athletes' count -- or are they not counted?  

First one; yes, they usually are. Second; even though the guides are essential for vision impaired athletes of higher levels of impairment, they are associated with the athlete they guide, so i guess they count as the same slot as the athlete. BUT, this doesn´t mean that the guides will or will not have the right to stand in the podium with their partners; this in particular is a big point of political contention, if i recall correctly.

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