I know we can all very easily imagine something like this
happening within the next few Olympics. (I know the picture isn’t very good, I quickly made it for this post.)
It’s been a popular topic during the time of London 2012, and Channel 4 even did a (Twitter-based, I think) poll. The answer ‘yes’ had more votes, as you can imagine. Who would say no to a chance to merge together two events that never really should have been separated?
It may sound harsh, but I would.
It’s not because I don’t think the Paralympics are good enough to be at the same time as the Olympics. I don’t think the athletes aren’t as good as the Olympic athletes (Oscar Pistorius, cough cough). I have a few reasons to want to keep these separate.
My first reason is that to be honest, I think the Olympic athletes would receive much more coverage than the Paralympic athletes. True, we all want to hear an inspirational (SOB) story (all but a certain one, guess who), we want to see someone overcome some kind of impairment to be amongst the sporting elite. I know merging them would be a big step towards human equality, but let’s be honest here. If the men’s 100m final of the able-bodied and disabled athletes (I know there are loads of different classes, so I’ll say it’s T44) are on at the same time, which one are you, and most people, going to watch? If you said the T44 one, you’re probably sickeningly virtuous or just kidding yourself. Who would pass an opportunity to see the fastest man ever potentially smash the world record?
This all means that if they get merged, the Paralympic part of it will be pushed to the side. There will be coverage, of course, but it will likely receive less views than the Olympic part, unless there’s no good Olympic events on.
A second reason is that it’s just too much for one summer. There were 16 days of games of the Olympics, and in that we had loads of sports, TWENTY-FOUR extra channels created just to show all the events, coverage from early morning to late at night and insanely long Opening and Closing Ceremonies. In the Paralympics we have another 11 days of games, three new channels, 20 sports (not mentioning all the classes within them; and the different strokes in swimming; the different running distances, etc) and an Opening Ceremony lasting a long time. So combining them would mean 27 (almost a month) of games, 27 extra channels (what a cool coincidence), I have no idea how many sports and Opening and Closing Ceremonies lasting probably the entire night. And imagine the athlete’s parade. How long would that be? We have 164 nations in the Paralympics, probably more in the Olympics, and some with 200+ athletes in each. I think in the Olympics, we had 16,500. In the Paralympics we have 4,200. That’s 20,500 athletes walking around the stadium with the flag. That would take ages if they all ran, but add the time it takes for them to take photos, wave, say hi, wave their flag about and do all sorts of crazy stuff. The parades lasted hours, and could you sit through about 2+ hours of people walking (or wheeling) slowly around a stadium?
How could we do all of it? If you watch streams of the athletics in either games, you’ll notice there’s usually some running on the track, some throwing and some jumping, all at the same time. It’s all happening one after another, in quick succession. As soon as one race is over another begins. There are (from my count, including men’s and women’s events separately) 16 (hope I’m right) running events in the Olympics. You have to have about three or four heats, two semi-finals and a final. That’s 112 races. (I hope that was right.) Add that to the Paralympic races (of which there are probably more than the Olympics, keeping all the classes in mind), and you’ve probably got about 150+ races to do in one month. And in the velodrome you’ve got men’s and women’s pursuit, sprint, team stuff and some other things. Then that plus the different classes in the Paralympics= A LOT.
I can’t even begin to describe how many races and how long it would be in the pool. More than 200, I bet.
So as you can see from what I’ve mentioned, this would take ages. And if there are false starts, that’s more time added. And you can’t have sport 24/7 for 27 days. There would have to be a start and an end, but that would mean more days of games. It’s too much to take in.
We might even have to make extra venues, but that’s more money to be spent. I don’t think we’d make it up in ticket sales.
And plus, we’ve already got an IOC and an IPC. If they merge, who would be the president? They’d probably both want to rule it all, but you know…
Also, the logo would need to be remade. It probably won’t be my rubbish amateur effort shown at the beginning of the post. We would have to get rid of the iconic Olympic rings, which isn’t the best thing ever. We could have something like this
but that’s giving the Olympics precedence, and we’re basically back to the ‘separate events’ thing.
In a historical perspective, the Olympics and Paralympics were never meant to be together. The original Olympics were around in 776 BC (and I don’t think they had a disabled version), Baron de Coubertin’s modern Olympics (although he based his somewhat off some local English ‘Olympics’ that were around in the 17/16th century, I think) started in 1896. The first ‘Paralympics’ were simply an archery competition for war veterans in 1948, to coincide with London’s hosting of the Olympics; then in 1960 in Rome the official Paralympics began. A hardcore history buff would probably say that historically, these two events didn’t exist together (before 1948, the Paralympics didn’t exist at all), so why should they now? Obviously no one’s that mean to say that, so I don’t think it’s a good or valid point. I’m just putting it out there, but I don’t agree.
What would we call the event if it’s merged, anyway? ‘Para-‘ means ‘alongside’, so we can’t call it ‘the Olympic and Paralympic Games’, because they’d be happening at the same time, and that’s still implying they’re two separate, parallel events. If we call it the Olympic Games, that’s sort of not acknowledging the Paralympic part, if you get what I mean. They’ve been the ‘Olympic Games’ for centuries, so people will go “hey, what happened to the Paralympics?” We’ll have to invent a new name, and it will be difficult to get used to it, and to get rid of something with so much history. We wouldn’t really be able to put it in the Olympic timeline, as it’s not technically JUST the Olympics. 2020 (assuming that’s when it may happen) would be the start of a new event, and all the old archive footage of the Olympics/Paralympics would be useless. We wouldn’t be able to say “back in 1896, the games were revived”, we would have to say “this is the first time we’ve ever done it”. We’d also have to set the Olympiad clock back to zero. It wouldn’t be the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, it would be the Games of the I [whatever the event is called], and we wouldn’t have the grand-sounding name we have now (I personally love the whole ‘Olympiad’ thing, it sounds so ancient and grand, which is a bit Roman, therefore I like it!).
A final point is; the athlete’s village would have to be HUGE to accommodate 20,000+ athletes. They’d have to make disabled-friendly stuff too, and all this equals huge amounts of money, which the world doesn’t seem to have right now.
So there we have it: my reasons why the Olympics and Paralympics should be separate. They both deserve their own events, and both deserve a chance in the limelight. I know WAY more about the Paralympics than I would have done if they were merged, thanks to LEXI (which is really good, by the way), and I know the names of plenty of the athletes of Team GB. (Or ParalympicsGB, whichever is good with you.) If they were merged, the amazing skills and sporting achievements of the Paralympians wouldn’t be so covered.
Here’s a poll, but also give me your thoughts in the comments.
Your Olympic AND Paralympic blogger, Jaz