Contested Global Mega-Events, Para-Sport and Social Values: London, Toronto and Singapore

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:24
Oral Presentation
Jill LE CLAIR, Centre for Business in Society, Coventry University, United Kingdom
Donna WONG, Centre for Business in Society, Coventry University, United Kingdom
This paper examines attitudes towards para-athletes and their mega-sport events, in the context of UN and national Disability Rights legislation (Parent & Chappelet 2015). Mega-sport events both reflect and influence national values, and are inevitably the site of contestation within global capitalism. Results from a two-year study of attitudes after the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the Toronto 2015 Pan Am-Parapan American Games are presented, and an analysis of the heated public debates linked to Singapore’s policies and governance of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Research showed that in the UK some Paralympians were already celebrities because of mainstream and social media coverage, but at the same time there was conflict between those who objected to social welfare cutbacks for the disabled and those who supported the global corporate ‘economic development’ of London’s East End and billions of pounds spent on the Games themselves (Jackson et al 2015). The legal and social framework for the Toronto Parapan Am Games was the passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA 2005), and a commitment to greater accessibility, socially, and in the built environment, despite additional costs. There was less media coverage of all kinds for this second-tier event, but most participants ‘admired’ and were ‘inspired’ by para-athletes (Le Clair 2016).

Provision for disabled sport in Asia has not been as comprehensive as in the global north, so there are fewer participants from the global south in para-sport (Brittain 2017). Multi-medalist Paralympian swimmer Yip Pin Siew became the centre of national discourse over the difference in the treatment and recognition of disabled athletes in Singapore. This led to changes in para-sport policies and governance (Disability Sports Master Plan 2016).