Saturday, August 19, 2006

International Paralympic Committee discriminates

The IPC has decided to not allow people with learning disabilities (S14 classification) to compete in the Beijing Paralympic Games 2008. Following this ban the many young people who have dedicated their lives to swimming, and have trained so hard, continue to train in the hope that they will be allowed to compete at this highest of levels.

Hopes and dreams are shattered by this. And to learn the news by looking on the IPC website is despicable. Many have already represented Great Britain. It is outrageous that such discrimination can happen against these people. In this respect a learning disability is no different to a physical disability.

All that swimmers, or any athlete, wants to do is compete against each other in the same way as able-bodied (or able-minded) people do. This simple (!) action can only shatter dreams and aspirations. And take the heart out of these athletes. The decision affects all athletes with an S14 classification: all are to be excluded from the Paralympic Games. Discriminated against.

It seems that the IPC has a disability itself. In basic common sense and sensitivity. Hardly able-minded. No doubt there are financial drivers behind this. The Paralympic Games are for all disabilities. It does not involve selectivity. It is an absolute disgrace.

Was there anyone to represent the views of the athletes before this decision was taken? Before the IPC made this final decision? The only people to suffer, and suffer greatly, are the athletes themselves and their families.

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