March 21, 2022
Paralympians still don’t get the kind of media attention they deserve as elite athletes
With no international spectators and limited domestic crowds, the importance placed on broadcasting the Paralympic Games is greater than ever before. When the Games were postponed in 2020, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons argued that the Paralympics were needed more than ever to put disability back at the heart of the inclusion agenda.
With the highest estimated global viewership to date, at 4.25 billion total viewers, Parsons was convinced that media representation of the Paralympic Games would help “change attitudes, breakdown barriers of inequality and create more opportunities for persons with disabilities.”
But has the media represented Paralympic athletes in a way that can change attitudes about disability? Our recent analysis found Canadian media coverage of Paralympians at the 2016 Rio Games fell into four main categories: athlete first, stereotyped, informative and multidimensional.