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Can 2022 Olympic arouse more attention to Paralympic in China?

By Global Times 03 Jan 2015

It's a good bet you haven't heard much about the Paralympic Games in recent days. 

At the Olympic Games, viewers delight in the colorful stories of athletes from around the world: the Pakistani skier who practiced on ­pieces of wood, the African swimmer who grew up ­hundreds of miles away from water, and the Jamaican bobsled team.

At the Paralympic Games, everyone has a story. Whether their disability has come through injury or illness, each athlete shows almost impossible levels of determination just to stand at the starting line. Simply put, the Paralympic Movement redefines the realms of possibility and there is no more inspiring sporting event in the world. 

What a shame, then, that coverage in China has been close to zero. China is a Paralympic force, having topped the medal table at the last three Summer Paralympic Games. Winter sports are a different story, with China still looking to end its medal drought at a Winter Paralympic Games, but the reaction in China of those who should know ­better has been telling.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang was asked early this year which Chinese leader would ­attend the opening ceremony of the Sochi ­Winter Paralympic Games. His answer? A "leading ­figure" from the China Disabled Persons' Federation. Contrast that to the opening of the Olympic Games last month, which was attended by none other than Chinese President Xi Jinping.

For a country that held a Paralympic Games as recently as 2008 and wants to do so again in 2022, China should at least pretend it cares.

Sadly the media are no better than the politicians. CCTV has the luxury of not having to chase ratings, but having been awarded the rights to broadcast the Paralympic Games, it can do better than showing brief highlights very late at night. 

At a time when the world's most famous Paralympian, Oscar Pistorius, is attracting attention for all the wrong reasons, the Paralympic Movement needs help now more than ever. 

Originally published on Global Times, by  Mark Dreyer

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