Research Shows Positive Attitude Towards Paralympics

According to a recent survey, 93% of the UK public see Paralympic athletes as good role models for young people. A total of 69% of those polled say that there should be more media coverage of Paralympic Sport. 05 May 2008 By IPC

The research, conducted by Opinion Leader, was published last week by the London 2012 Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).

Sebastian Coe, LOCOG Chairperson, said: “We want to use the power of the Games to inspire change, and one of the key legacies the London 2012 Paralympic Games can leave is to change public and media attitudes towards people with a disability. This research gives us an important insight into attitudes towards Paralympic Sport and we will use it to underpin our plans. We will build on the high level of awareness, and, working with the International Paralympic Committee and the British Paralympic Association, make sure we take every opportunity to educate, engage, inform and inspire the UK public and the world over the next four years and deliver a truly memorable Paralympic Games in 2012.”

Other key findings in the research are that 85% of the UK public believe that Paralympic athletes are as professional as able-bodied athletes. Of those polled, most agreed (93%) that sport for persons with a disability requires just as much skill as non-disability sport.

Nearly all respondents (96 per cent) said that having a disability should not prevent people from taking up the opportunity to play sport – strong evidence of a positive attitude in the UK towards people with a disability.

Athletics, Wheelchair Basketball and Swimming topped the list of sports that the public associate spontaneously with the Paralympic Games. When prompted with a list of sports, there was also high awareness of Archery, Shooting and Table Tennis.

But the survey showed that 69% of respondents could not name a Paralympian. The best known Paralympian was Dame Tanni Grey- Thompson. Equally, whilst 94% of the UK public have heard of the Paralympic Games, it cannot be assumed that they necessarily have a good understanding of the Games and its participants.

The survey indicates a lower awareness of the Paralympic Games and of Paralympians amongst younger age groups, particularly those under 24. This provides another area for London 2012 and its partners to focus efforts to raise awareness through its plans to maximize new media outlets including broadband TV and sports networking sites.

A number of in-depth interviews with prominent correspondents in the sports and news media, conducted simultaneously with the poll of the general public, showed an appetite for personality-led Paralympic features and offered the advice that the gap between the close of the Olympic Games and the opening of the Paralympic Games should be as short as possible to maintain public interest. Equally, the media were keen to find the emerging Paralympic stars of Beijing 2008.

LOCOG also published a Guide to the Paralympic Games to explain more about the history and background of the Games.

This is downloadable along with the research at