“The IPC president also defended the involvement of Atos, the IT giant whose name adorns the lanyards of all accredited Games athletes and staff but has been criticised by disability rights campaigners for its involvement in assessing whether benefit claimants are “fit for work”.
~ Phillip Craven President of the IPC
Phillip Craven is a disability denier and a shameless betrayer of disabled people. He speaks for himself and nobody else!
~ Black Triangle Campaign
Drop the word ‘disabled’ from Games coverage, demands Paralympics committee president
‘Would you want to be described as not working, not functioning?’ asks Philip Craven
The Bolton Born president of the International Paralympic Committee has called for the word “disabled” to be dropped from coverage of the London Games. Sir Philip Craven, who has been president of the Bonn-based IPC since 1991, said it was time to re-examine the language used to describe Paralympians.
“This is sport. It’s not disability anything. I come from sport,” said Craven, who represented Great Britain at wheelchair basketball at five Paralympics between 1972 and 1988. “There’s no need for a replacement. Just use the terminology that people use in sport. You know what the word ‘disabled’ means. It means something that doesn’t work, doesn’t function. How would you like to be called that? If you want to use it, that’s your decision. But try and drop it. It’s not easy to begin with. But just drop it.”
Craven called for use of the word in connection with the Paralympics, which begins on Wednesday with an opening ceremony titled The Enlightenment, to be phased out. Despite his call, the official ParalympicsGB guide for the media suggests the use of the phrase “disabled person” as being in line with the 2010 Equality Act.
Craven predicted that the London Games, which will feature a record 4,200 athletes representing 165 countries and competing in 20 sports, would take the Paralympics to a “new frontier”. The London organising committee, which has repeatedly emphasised its aim to treat the Olympics and Paralympics as an integrated whole, is confident that all 2.5 million tickets for the Paralympics will sell out for the first time.
Even before the success of the Olympic Games sparked a renewed surge of interest, it had shifted more tickets than for any previous Paralympics. It has sold 2.3 million, with around 200,000 more due to come onto the market as final venue configurations are finalised.
“It’s the first time we’ve had such a long and fruitful relationship with an organising committee. It doesn’t surprise me, knowing also the British people and their love of true sport, it doesn’t worry me about having to live up to something because I just know the 4,200 Paralympians will do that,” said Craven.
“What has really thrilled me is the way that the British public has come out this summer and just caught the fever. That’s going to continue with the Paralympics, I just know it is.”
The Games will feature 16 National Paralympic Committees fielding teams for the first time, including Albania, Antigua, Malawi and Rwanda, the first sub-Saharan country to compete in a Paralympic Games. Other countries, including the Ukraine and Brazil, that have recently invested heavily in Paralympic sport are expected to challenge the British team’s aim of matching their Beijing achievement of finishing second in the medal table. Craven said he expected US athletes to challenge strongly, despite a history of under-investment in Paralympic sport. American broadcaster NBC will show just five-and-a-half hours of the Paralympics, none of it live. That compares with more than 150 hours that will be shown by Channel 4.
“It would be a bit boring if they all got it and they were all doing it and there were no new frontiers,” said Craven, who added that the IPC had developed its own online broadcasting operation to compensate for the lack of coverage in some territories.
He said it was important to remember how far the Paralympic movement had come since 1988, when the Seoul Games marked the first time that it had been held in parallel with the Olympics in the same host city. “There is this aura about the whole Games. From all over the world, people want to be in London,” explained Craven. There are hopes that the London Games will inspire a new wave of commercial attention in the Paralympics and those who compete in it.
Craven said that the renewal of its partnership deal with the International Olympic Committee to co-host the Games would help that process. “It’s a good and developing relationship and we’ve just signed a deal to ensure that continues to 2018 and 2020,” he said. “But we’ve also signed a partnership agreement, which we’ve never had before. Part of that involves the development of joint sponsorship or the promotion of both Games.”
The IPC president also defended the involvement of Atos, the IT giant whose name adorns the lanyards of all accredited Games athletes and staff but has been criticised by disability rights campaigners for its involvement in assessing whether benefit claimants are “fit for work”.
Craven said he could understand the Paralympics being used a vehicle to articulate wider concerns but said the IPC’s involvement with the company had been “very positive”. “All I can say is that we have a record over the last 60 or 65 years of being a fighter for the right causes. That’s what we will continue to do. But where they seem to be very upset with this particular part of that company’s organisation, our experiences within the Paralympic movement with Atos are very positive,” he insisted.
“They have given us incredible help with the development of our new website. That isn’t just people putting their expertise in, that’s people working night and day and really giving of themselves to make sure the deadline was met.”
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