Lemke Calls on Media to Give Paralympics Greater Coverage

28 Oct 2010 By IPC

“Before the Games, much more people were ashamed to have a child with a disability. Now due to the Paralympic Games doors are opening, which is very encouraging.”

Wilfried Lemke, the Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, has called on the worldwide media to give greater coverage to Paralympic Sport and other sports for people with a disability.

Speaking on a visit to the International Paralympic Committee’s headquarters in Bonn, Germany, Lemke said he was a big supporter of the Paralympic Games and felt that the Movement could benefit from TV stations giving it greater airtime.

“I have seldom witnessed moments in sport which were as inspiring as those seen in sport for people with a disability,” said Mr. Lemke.

“That is why a worldwide campaign to support all those people who are participating in sports for people with a disability – be it physical or mental – could make a big difference”, he added.

Appointed in March 2008 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Lemke’s key responsibility is to promote sports as an instrument for development and peace, both within the United Nations system and externally.

As part of his UN mandate he has set as one of his top priorities the promotion and support sport for people living with a disability.

To achieve this, he understands there are some major challenges ahead, but a breakthrough moment may be all that it takes.

Mr. Lemke said: “People living with a disability, regardless of which disability, are still not given all the opportunities they should be given, in particular in the field of sports. To be honest I am afraid we’re a long away from that.

“There is still a lot to do to convince stakeholders that sport for people with disability should be given more attention and support, and to encourage governments that have not done so to accede to, ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, which contains important provisions on sport,

“I hope to convince the media not only to strive for high TV ratings by broadcasting Champions League Games and Olympic Games, but to also give visibility to the fantastic athletes who compete in the Paralympic Games and other sports events for people with a disability.

“They could broadcast powerful stories that would touch and inspire viewers and help promote a change in perceptions, thus achieving the TV ratings broadcasters strive for.”

According to Mr. Lemke, it is however not just about chasing TV ratings when it comes to sport for people with a disability, it is about changing the way people deal with disability in society. He believes the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games are a fine example of just what can be achieved.

“I was really pleased to see over the course of the Paralympic Games in Beijing that the attitude towards people with a disability was changing in a positive way within the Chinese society, which counts the world’s largest population with disabilities,” said Mr. Lemke.

“Before the Games, much more people were ashamed to have a child with a disability. Now due to the Paralympic Games doors are opening, which is very encouraging.”