The Paralympic Plight

Shopping on Vancouver’s famed Robson street district yielded several new treasures for my wardrobe with the added bonus of an eye opening experience.

Sunny g's!

That Saturday afternoon started out well enough and saw everyone out and about enjoying the sun. I myself joined in on the fun, wanting to take advantage of this rare February window of clear, blue skies, cool breezes and sunny g weather.

Whilst spending money I had yet to earn, I noticed a new fashion trend. Besides the summer rushers wearing shorts and flip-flops in 11-degree weather (read- not warm enough yet you rushers!); and not including the skinny jeans, ugg boots crowd, there was a newly emerging group of like-minded lemmings: the Go Canada crowd. I commented to my shopping buddy on how glad I was to see people still wearing their team Canada gear after the Olympics were over, feeling the Go Canada fever continued to live on. Giving me the ‘are you crazy’ look, she curtly replied – “What are you talking about, the Paralympics are coming.”

Oops.

Double oops too considering I’m part of the Olympic AND Paralympic organizing committee and should have, sort of, kind of,  really remembered this.

Can I also add a ‘Yikes!’. What a state these games are in when even those working on them day-to-day can easily forget their existence.

Personally, I think there’s really no one to blame for this. Except for those marketing folks of course. Sure I work there but would it kill them to send me an email or a text message or something? Perhaps reminding me that the HR papers I’m working on are for the Paralympics.

Sheesh.

Such is the plight of the Paralympics. Fully supported by the Organizing Committee for the Olympic games (well at least those on the committee who remembered, tee hee), happily embraced by the community, but all but forgotten by International media and the spectators.

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What are the Paralympics?

5 events:

  1. Alpine skiing
  2. Biathalon
  3. Cross Country skiing
  4. Ice Sledge hockey
  5. Curling

Tickets available for sale here. These games will get 150 hours of live and delayed TV coverage and host broadcaster CTV is committed to 50 hours of coverage through its various channels.

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The Olympics were built up with 5+ years of prep work, countless overtime hours and thousands of committee members. It exploded in a 17-day extravaganza of sport and excess and concluded in a continuous series of whirlwind indoor parties and outdoor street celebrations some of us are still reeling from today (it’s no lie, Absinthe stays with you forever). Afterwards, everyone packs up, everyone goes home and (typically) everyone puts away their Olympic clothing and gear and then 2 weeks later another smaller, lesser-known event takes place (Para-what now?).

Problem #1

The logistics are off. How can anyone, short of a member of the royal court, afford to stay for over a month (Feb 12 to Mar 21) to watch both Olympic ceremonies and sporting events? Most can barely afford to go to one actual event (ex. $800+ for an opening ceremony ticket) let alone both series of sports.  I live in the city and couldn’t afford to do everything possible for the first series. Nor could I spare the time in all the line-ups. My maximum time in line is proportionate to my patience level- however long it takes for me to bumped or jostled five times in line indicates it’s time to go. Though not before giving that fifth bumper a swift elbow to the face  (oh I’m sorry, I didn’t see your face in the way of my elbow. Hope that heals quickly for ya.)

Problem #2

Disability stigma. It’s true. No one wants to have a disability. The very nature of the word makes it something you want to avoid. It’s never a celebration or good news when the word ‘disability’ is involved (New Hallmark cards: Happy Disabled Birthday! Congratulations on your Disability!).

However, the Paralympics should be widely celebrated as these athletes are not only more active and much healthier than most of us (yes I’m talking to you on your couch there buddy) they’re also doing it way better than we ever could and they have a disability. Dang. Feel free to give that personal trainer a call now.

Doing some research online (You have to love this invention. I hope it sticks around for awhile), new, exciting info was discovered. After 5 decades of being in the off year of the Olympics, the Paralympics have recently been placed adjunct to the Olympics and are a fully-fledged partner staged in the same host city. This year, Vancouver’s Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee has brought about a few first ever(s):

  • The first time the word Paralympic has been in the organizing committee’s name
  • The first time the Olympic and Paralympic flags have flown side by side at city hall
  • The first Paralympic countdown clock

Says Sir Philip Craven, International Paralympic Committee president: “They’ve gone out right from the start with the intention for it to be one organizing committee and two connected Games in a great festival of sport, and I think it is fantastic”.

Solution:

Go to the events. Continue to wear your team jerseys and support team Canada as our 55 Paralympic athletes take on the world.
Luckily, Go Canada fever still lives on as I’m happy to report that all the Canada games for Sledge Hockey, the most popular Paralympic event, are sold out. No worries though as there are still plenty of other Sledge Hockey games and numerous events left to watch and other countries to cheer for. Alternatively, if you can’t get tickets you should just get out to the bars and cheer Canada on in the traditional way – with a burger and a pint.

Myself, I’m definitely going to support Team Canada and besides going to the opening ceremonies (pending ticket purchase), I will happily host parties at my homestead or at a local bar with fellow well-wishers. Also, when Canada wins gold in the Sledge Hockey finals (or any gold medal final for that matter) I will excitedly attend any and all celebratory parties, honourary celebrations or ‘Better luck next time, Russia’ shindigs in the streets and stay out until the very last underage partier goes home… or at least until last call at the bars. Whichever comes first. So please Team Canada, no thanks needed.

I’m just doing my part.

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