sports

Paralympic disability categories under fire over fairness

35 Comments
By Clément VARANGES

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2021 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


35 Comments
Login to comment

"Two people who swim with both their hands appeared in my S5 category. You don't have to be very smart to understand that having two hands in swimming helps a lot. There are a lot of flagrant inequalities." — French swimmer Theo Curin, whose lower legs and hands were amputated after a bout of meningitis 

That’s been my exact takeaway from the little that I have watched.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Are people upset about this? Hopefully a disabled persons achievements are not undermined by nonsense.

I have to work all day under Corona restrictions. Was barely aware that the Olympics and Para Olympics were even going on.

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

The whole point of the Paralympics is for able bodied people to say " Wow aren't disable people great, its amazing what they can do.... they are an inspiration etc". Many in the disabled community actually hate these games as it gives a very false impression of disability. The reality isn't about competition, sports and medals. The reality is a daily struggle to live a "normal" as possible life. To use public transport, get a job and go to the shops.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

thepersoniamnow  07:02 am JST

Are people upset about this? Hopefully a disabled persons achievements are not undermined by nonsense.

Is a victory by a less disabled person over a greater disabled person … an “achievement”? Of course, we can claim that the event is all about the spirit of competition, etc., but if that is genuinely so, then why the need for medals and medal counts?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Asiaman

Perhaps you would prefer if all competing received a participation medal?

I don’t think you understand the “spirit of competition” if it leads to no winners.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

It’s those with ‘skin in the game’ whom are upset @thepersoniamnow 7:02am:

*- “Are people upset about this?” [Yes. It’s the “Top Story”]-*

Perhaps the ‘categorizing’ appears to be ‘subjective’ and ‘inconsistent’?

*- “But critics of the system point to what they say is the arbitrary and unscientific nature of the assessments involved.*

*The exams are "done by eye and based on the feeling of the observers", French swimmer Claire Supiot told FranceInfo.”*

IF that’s so, then it’s the athletes who have a right to question it. Others are just observers.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Was barely aware that the Olympics and Para Olympics were even going on.” ? Yet, many have had to close businesses due the the governments’ insistence that Their Olympics and now, Paralympic Games go on ‘at any cost’. Who were the ‘winners’ there? (Perhaps, Not you and I.)

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I question the validity of some these athletes' disabilities. There have been quite a few athletes I have watched that seem perfectly able bodied.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

It is suppose to be "under fire" all the time, it was designed so that people will be evaluated and reevaluated all the time to be fair. At any point an athlete can put their hand up and asked to reevaluated to a different category.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Snowymountain

Dude you just actually look at my comment history and then try to trip me up by a past comment?

Skin in the game! That was me talking about parents of mixed blood kidz here in Japan who think they can tell me about what its like. Don’t quote me after distorting me.

But I disagree that people have much interest and its the “top story”

Perhaps with a 30% approval rating, another headline is needed as a distraction.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Give everyone a gold medal and be done with it! If para-athletes have to cheat to get a greater chance to "win" a medal, they should be treated the same as athletes who dope up to win in the Olympics.

The system seems to be flawed no doubt, and it behooves the powers that be to make necessary adjustments to make it as fair as possible for everyone involved.

The guy makes a great point, a swimmer with two arms and hands, has a distinct advantage to one who doesnt, and to me, that should be obvious to anyone!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I question the validity of some these athletes' disabilities. There have been quite a few athletes I have watched that seem perfectly able bodied.

You honestly think some of these athletes are pulling a grift?

That's some next-level cynicism.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

[Yes. It’s the “Top Story”]-*

It's the "top story" here, but you wont find it in the mainstream media! Japanese dont want to hear anything that would make these games look bad or ruin it's reputation!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

The Tokyo Paralympics has been an expensive farce. Just like its more bloated big brother, the Tokyo Olympics.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

If you don’t have a handicapped child of your own and know 100% of what life is like for them and the rest of the family I don’t think you should be commenting on categories.

One of my daughters bags green peppers all day long, everyday that is not a holiday. She deserves a medal too.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

No “distortion” intended. - Also being mixed race and also a small business operator, someone’s previous like-minded, rational comments come to mind when looking at their present ‘viewpoints’.

Do you also have a physically challenged family member, as well?

IF not, then it’s seems its the athletes who have a right to question it. Others are just observers.

- “Perhaps you would prefer if all competing received a participation medal?” -

Just equal physical criteria to compete seems fair. Let the medals go to those who do best.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Disabled cyclists (French, German & others) using championship winning cyclists as their 'pilots', as reported here a few days ago, is also making a mockery of the system. They even stated that they felt a huge difference.

Looks like the IOC 'values' are now being adopted by the IPC.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Reform is necessary especially for better categorization.

I think that the issue is a positive development. People get more attentive to, get more serious about the Paralympics which used to be considered an extra or supplementary event following the Olympics. The size has since been much bigger, more viewership/sponsorship gained. It's now an relevant international sport event.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Full disclosure: like most if not all commentators I am neither handicapped nor have any directed family-member or acquaintance who is. As such, it is difficult to "see" the world through the eyes or a handicapped person.

I too, came across some photos in newspaper making me wonder: yes, they all are handicapped, but not in the same way. Does making them compete in the same game actually work or even...make any sense?

As a person with no reference to the issue, it's hard for me to tell what is fair in this situation. The fact that some of the actual athletes think there is a problem may actually show that there is one.

If we take a bicycle race where the bike may have a tighter chain, a looser chain, a rusty chain, a loose handlebar, a lower / higher handlebar, a shaky rear or front wheel (or both), a smaller rear or front wheel, where you need to ride blindfolded or can only pedal with one leg, or some or all of the issues, you can only wonder if it makes sense to put everybody in the same race. But again, running the same race again and again and again with only people with the same disability? Not sure that is going to help selling the event...

Again, I'm a layman on this topic, but it looks like the core of the problem being that it was non-handicapped people coming up with the idea for these games and then possibly proceeded to cut quite a few corners when implementing, leaving the actual handicapped athletes having to "make up for it". A little bit like the challenges that handicapped people face in real life...which frankly beats the whole purpose.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Asiaman7Today  06:52 am JST

That’s been my exact takeaway from the little that I have watched.

The advertisers will be very glad you've chose to watch it.

It's also impressive you're able to form an opinion on it with only having watched "a little".

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Mr KiplingToday  07:08 am JST

The whole point of the Paralympics is for able bodied people to say " Wow aren't disable people great, its amazing what they can do.... they are an inspiration etc". Many in the disabled community actually hate these games as it gives a very false impression of disability. The reality isn't about competition, sports and medals. The reality is a daily struggle to live a "normal" as possible life. To use public transport, get a job and go to the shops.

It's quite a thing to speak on behalf of a huge part of the worlds population.

How many is "many"? What's your source?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Who is actually watching the Paralympics? Can anyone name a single athlete?

The games are to provide an outlet for the disabled, and try to make them feel a bit better. It's not about who wins, because nobody cares. Just give them all participation medals.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Really? You can be considered disabled if you have a cognitive issue? I'm pretty sure Joe DiMaggio was incredibly autistic and was still one of the greatest ball players in history. It kind of explains marrying a sociopath like Marilyn Monroe.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

A generation ago, the event was called the Special Olympics, and it was about friendship and participation. There were no medals tables or endorsement deals.

Now, it’s the Paralympics, and it’s about winning and money.

There is ultimately no way to make the Paralympics “fair.” No two disabilities are exactly the same. Every disability requires custom accommodation. No matter how the Paralympics group competitors, there will be some who are near the top end of their class and others at the bottom end.

And as long as there is financial incentive (in the form of bonuses, support, or endorsements), there will be incentive to get oneself classified as favorably as possible. As long as the Paralympics focus on competition and money, there is no way to fix this.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It seems that some of the paralympic competitors are succeeding in their quest to live as 'normal' people.....they are just as competitive, greedy and unhappy.

Nick Vujicic is an amazing exception.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

mikeylikesitToday  12:01 pm JST

A generation ago, the event was called the Special Olympics, and it was about friendship and participation. There were no medals tables or endorsement deals.

They are two completely different events and operate separately.

Why do so many people on here comment negatively without the slightest bit of research?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

f you don’t have a handicapped child of your own and know 100% of what life is like for them and the rest of the family I don’t think you should be commenting on categories

Right, let's expand on your logic here, if you dont have biracial kids, you have no place in commenting on issues related to them, arent black, cant talk about their issues, and the list goes on and on.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I think it is fair to say that no enhancements on bikes for instance should be allowed. It is like putting steroids on the equipment to win. Unfair.

They should all be similar disabilities with no equipment enhanced. Or if so equally used by participants.

I can see someone with the same disability but decides to use his own mouth to hold the ping pong racket. That is talent and he found a way. That to me is acceptable. Hats off!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

SteveinJapanToday  10:30 am JST

Who is actually watching the Paralympics?

Asiaman7 is watching (says so in the very first comment).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hard to make these events fair when considering the variables.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Making it perfectly fair for every type of disability is just too hard to do. If they had to make it perfectly fair, then they would have to literally make 100 different categories; meaning that only one or two people might be competing in each category. Is that really what we want to see? Two people competing for three medals, in each event and in each category?

Also, what may on one hand seem like an advantage, could actually be a disadvantage. Most people would at first agree that a person with all four limbs would have an advantage over someone with only one limb. However, if that person with all four limbs is paralyzed from the waist down, their legs would simply be acting as dead weight and make it harder to swim than someone who are missing those legs.

Also, in running and long jump events, some people say that having two bladed legs could actually be an advantage over someone with one bladed leg and one real leg by adding more spring to their steps; even though many would say that the one missing two legs is more disabled than the one with only one leg.

However, like many posters here, I too get perplexed by seeing the 100 m races with perfectly looking males and females running, who supposedly have some type of mental impairment. They run perfectly fine with times between 10 and 12 seconds. Yes, none of them would make the final of a real Olympics, but they would be pretty close. Also, I don't get why being blind is considered as an impairment, but being deaf is not. I heard the deaf people have a different type of Olympics or international event they compete in. Why?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I can speak ASL, American Sign language, but when I try to use that with Deaf Japanese, I am basically deaf and resort to writing katakana in my hand to communicate, but...what are these games about? PC inclusion?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The blind events are the fairest, they put a blindfold on, to even it out - everyone is equally blind. and it doesn't stop them from balling! the Blind futsal is incredible, one of the best events, It's incredible to see them in action.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have congenital limb deficiency, enough to be classified in the Japanese Handicap classification as Level 1 handicap.

From what I gather, some see an event where people with disabilities show what they can do despite of the challenges, or as SteveinJapan puts it, an "outlet for the disabled" and everyone should just be given medals - sure, like children with candies? Some are struggling with acceptance and reality of what they see on this event, because it can hit one in their core values and understanding of human empathy and equity.

I watch the events and it is honestly as painful to watch even for a person like me with a disability. Coming out open for the entire world to see your bare body deformity, mental struggles and flaws can break a normal soul...and these athletes are there all out with what they got. It will hurt your pride, twist your innards watching people with mental, physical disabilities in weird positions, excruciating forms and ways just to get to their goal of winning an event. Go ahead, watch more until it no longer pains you.

What the Paralympics bring on the world stage is not just a showcase of the human competitive spirit despite a handicap, but most importantly (for me as a handicap) - Chance and Acceptance. A second chance for accident-impaired athletes, a kind world that opens dreams for congenital handicap persons to join the world of Sports that seem to have been exclusive to the able-bodied. If you can accept to the point that you no longer see the disability in a person, instead see a person just like you, trying their best to participate in society, carry on life with the body or mental state they never had a choice to have - then the Paralympics made this world kinder and accepting of differences - a better place. The Paralympics may have issues with classification and all that, but so does the Olympics. Same species, same issues, same joy, same triumph and defeat. It's a celebration of life for all.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is going to be interesting to see.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites