Reflecting on Rio – Paralympics 2016
Just over two weeks before the Rio Paralympics began I wrote in The Times that “the Rio 2016 organising committee in Brazil has given a flagrant two-finger salute to the Paralympics. The Games will, sadly, be remembered for abject failure — save for the sensational performances of the athletes, no doubt, who will be forced to compete in adversity with venues closed and service levels slashed.” Was my prediction correct?
Certainly about the sensational athletic performances. Paralympics GB did an incredible job as did all the athletes. And yes the situation in Rio was as frustrating as it was fantastic. At the start, a row about classifications – whether athletes were wrongly categorised to gain unfair advantage – it is absolutely essential that any accusations are investigated – we all want sport to be believable; principled and inspiring, and it must be. At venue level, organisers did heroic work, despite budget and staff cuts, working night and day to get the Games on. And the people of Rio, the Carioca, they came and they roared. The sadness is, the Games could have so easily been a sell-out, the spirit of the Carioca demonstrated that beyond doubt. My message to Tokyo: believe in the power of the Paralympics, believe it, build it, promote it and when the games of the possible comes to your city, make it a sell out!