Paralympians competing in the olympic games and the potential implications for the paralympic games




The 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, held in Rio de Janeiro, reignited public interest and discussion around Paralympic athletes attempting to qualify for, and compete at, the Olympic Games. That Paralympians have sought to compete at the Olympic Games is, however, not new. This paper looks at the largely unrecognised and often underreported history of Paralympians competing at the Olympic Games and addresses why it is that Paralympians may wish to compete at the Olympic Games. To do this we use historical examples, but also look at the contemporary cases of 3 such athletes: Jason Smyth, Alan Fonteles Cardoso and Markus Rehm. The paper also explores whether or not with advances in medical and prosthetic technologies, as well as potentially increased income and funding, we can expect to see more Paralympians attempting to crossover and compete in the Olympic Games in the future. The methodology used is one of qualitative case studies. The research question was: "What can be learned from the media coverage of Smyth, Oliveira and Rehm’s attempts to qualify for the Olympic Games?†We identify the type of editorial (political, social, cultural, sportive, educational, economic or gossip column); whether or not pictures were used (type of approach - sportive, personal or disability) and the narrative interpretations. We argue that how newspapers choose to report on the aims of Paralympians wishing to compete in the Olympics and the level of coverage that they receive it important. This level of depth of coverage suggests both positive and negative implications for the Paralympic Games, should this trend of athletes wishing to crossover continue.

Author Biographies

Leonardo Jose Mataruna-Dos-Santos, College of Business Administration - COBA / American University in the Emirates, Dubai

Dr Leonardo Mataruna’s key research interests in the legacies of Olympic and Paralympic Games, Sport Media, Sport for Peace, Innovation and new technologies for sport. He is licensee 1st Lieutenant of the Brazilian Navy and is part of Brazilian Judo Confederation. He attended as part of the Judo team the Olympics of Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012; the Paralympic Games of Athens 2004 as coach and, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 as journalist (commentator); and the Winter Olympics of Torino 2006 and Vancouver 2010, as observer. Dr Mataruna is part of Coventry University’s CPRS and Visitor Research Fellow at Advantage Program of Contemporary Culture (PACC) of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Andressa Fontes Guimaraes-Mataruna, Visiting Research Fellow at Technical University of Munich - TUM

MA Peacebuilding (Coventry University), Journalist (UNESA) and Visiting Researcher at Technical University of Munich in the Carnival Project - European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007- 2013/under REA grant agreement n° 612614.

Daniel Range, Research Associate at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations.

MA in Community Cohesion Management, PHD Candidate at Coventry University and Research Associate at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations.


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Disability, Education, Technology and Sport