Paralympic - same world, same dream

Patrick Ng, Honorary Secretary, Hong Kong Paralympic Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled

[May 2008 - The Journalist] ‘One World, One Dream’ is the co-slogan for the 29th Olympics Games and the 13th Paralympic. The promotion leaflet of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) states that disabled and healthy people belong to and share the ‘Same World, Same Dream’.

These elegant slogans are actually a continuation and affirmation of an agreement signed by Count Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in August 2003.

Count Rogge said the IOC “…assure Olympic and Paralympic will be held always in the same city. …We continue to support Paralympic financially …”.

Sir Philip added, “…IPC athletes are looking forward to Paralympic in 2012 and 2016. In the same city they will enjoy the competition and receive the same treatment as the normal athletes do. Starting from this Beijing Olympic and Paralympic, any country in the future which would apply to host the Olympic must also host the Paralympic. The two Games will be prepared by the same committee. Thus stands out the objective of the BOCOG ‘Two Games, Same Wonder’.

Paralympic never enjoyed the recent benefits of finance, international status and media attention before the IOC and IPC signed the agreement. Now a certain exposure of the Paralympic is assured because under the halo of the Olympics Games. However on the whole there is still a big difference between the two Games.

First Paralympic torch relay in Hong Kong

Although the commercial value of Paralympic is low, the standard is high and full of touching stories. Disabled athletes from different categories will take part in the 24 majors and 472 minor competitions. Selected candidates have gone through long periods of training, striving and struggling before they can enter into the limited places – 4,000 athletes - of the Games. Only the best can represent their country or region. As the media introduces various sports and report the competitions, they can also guide the readers by commenting on the level of individual athletes and tell the stories of these individuals. It will effectively advance the standard of the sports and its culture. It is hoped that readers, especially teenagers, will be inspired about the value of life.

This year the popular Olympics Games will begin on August 8. Compared to it the Paralympic which will start on September 6 has few Hong Kong people or sport lovers excited about it. This shows that more effort should be put into the reporting of Paralympic - like telling more about Paralympics in different countries, athletes of Hong Kong Paralympic and images of outstanding athletes will help people to further their understanding and acceptance of Paralympic.

This will also be the first time that the Paralympic torch relay will be held outside the territory of the organizing country. The media has good opportunity to draw public attention to these games.

Media attention would be big reward

For the disabled athletes these four yearly games are most important. They provide treasured moments for those chosen as a representatives and participants. If a participant can go through the competition and win for his country the joy is simply inexpressible. Definitely it encourages the Hong Kong athletes in a positive manner. Even if one loses one can still learn from it and prepare for the next games or become a coach to contribute to sports for the disabled.

If all the media can be supportive through their reporting then years hard work of the athletes must be recognized by the public. This would be the biggest reward and encouragement for Paralympic athletes.