Ludivine Munos, Responsable de l'Intégration Paralympique, à propos des Jeux Paralympiques
-One of the main principles of Paralympic sport is respecting Paralympic values – determination, inspiration, courage and equality. To ensure equality, each Paralympic sport has a classification system in place that groups eligible athletes based on their physical attributes to ensure they compete against athletes with similar capabilities. In addition to the classification system, Paralympic sports face the exact same challenges as Olympic sports, namely performance, high standards, preparation and emotion.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games have a great deal in common. For instance, the preparation involved and the determination to take part in the world’s greatest competition, which is associated with crowds of spectators and, of course, performances and medals. So the principle of performance equality applies to both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Athletes train with the same fire and determination. They all hope to hear their country’s national anthem as they stand on the podium to claim their medal. That’s what makes the Paralympic Games and the Olympic Games very similar. That being said, there are some differences related to disabilities, classification and even the types of sport, considering not all Olympic sports have Paralympic equivalents and vice versa. For instance, there are two Paralympic sports, goalball and boccia, that don’t feature on the Olympic programme. The Paralympic Games take place a few days after the Olympic Games and, since Seoul 1998, both competitions have been held in the same cities and structures and organised by the same committees. However, catering for 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes in the same place at the same time would require extra transport infrastructure, accommodation, sports facilities and, of course, more infrastructure in the Olympic and Paralympic Village, which would go against Paris 2024’s vision of hosting sustainable, responsible Games. We won’t need extra infrastructure as we won’t be catering for 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes at the same time. Why are the Paralympic Games starting a few days after the end of the Olympic Games though? Well, we’ll need a few days after the Olympic Games to reconfigure competition venues, clean up and carry out repairs, ensuring a fresh new look in time for the Paralympic Games. Lastly, the IPC, the global governing body of the Paralympic movement, is quite keen on the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games being kept separate to ensure all athletes are given a chance every four years to gain media exposure. When the two competitions are separate, it gives athletes the opportunity to make a name for themselves and promote the Paralympic movement worldwide.
Paris 2024 can actively contribute to increasing awareness of Paralympic sports across the world and changing public attitudes towards disability. That’s why it’s pledged to organise Games that share the same ambition. For instance, the Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place in the same iconic venues, with the same high standards, level of service and communications. The information we provide about Paralympic athletes and sports will help people improve their knowledge and encourage them to watch the competition with their families in three years’ time. Paris 2024 has a responsibility to raise awareness of all the sports, but it isn’t alone in its efforts. Everybody, including broadcast and print media, can play their part to raise awareness of these lesser-known sports so that, in three years’ time, people get excited about watching Paralympians from all over the world perform with the same level of emotion and desire to win a medal and gain exposure and recognition within the sporting community.