Today the Paralympics end. But I’m sure you all knew that anyway. Among the fine athletics displays on show and the memorable moments – is the welcome news, reported in Community Care, that the exclusion of learning disabled athletes is to be reconsidered by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
A press release by the IPC confirms that
It is envisaged that the inclusion of athletes with an intellectual disability in future Paralympic Games, beginning with London 2012, will be formally ratified by the IPC General Assembly in November 2009.
“We are delighted by the announcement made by the IPC and INAS-FID on the progress made to lift the ban. However, there must now be immediate funding to make sure this happens and that as many sports are included as possible for athletes with a learning disability in future Paralympic games.”
MENCAP have been running a parallel campaign to focus on funding for learning disabled athletes and this is surely going to be a side-effect of the re-inclusion of these competitors to the international stage.
Britain has a fine tradition of disabled sports across the board – and this is reflected by the 102 medals, 42 of which are gold, which have been received in the Paralympics (to date) behind, only China. It is particularly good news then that the London Games will prove to remedy the omission of this one group of athletes eager to compete.
It is also quite right that the inclusive nature of the Paralympics is to return for the London games as the roots of the movement for parallel olympics for disabled athletes were sown at the Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948, in the grounds of the Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
I have no doubt the news will bring great joy to wide range of people. Luckily, I’ll be there this time in four more years, to cheer them on!