Chris was delighted to sit down with the makers of Japan Sports Stories, a fortnightly podcast that explores the untold stories of Japan and Japanese Sport in the run up to the Olympic Games.
Entitled ‘How to Make a Paralympic Games’, Chris’s episode looks at what made the London games so successful and what Tokyo needs to do to maintain that momentum.
Chris has enjoyed a long association with the Paralympic Games under many guises. He has been called Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer, winning a total of nine golds, five silvers and a bronze across four Games.
Following his retirement from swimming Chris’s involvement with the Games continued as part of the bid team and then as Director of Paralympic Integration at London 2012 and now as Deputy Chair of Channel 4 – as Channel 4 continue a longstanding commitment to Paralympic sport securing the broadcast rights for both Tokyo and Paris 2024.
Tokyo 2020 comes on the back of a Paralympic Games that was almost cancelled due to a lack of funding and poor management. Just years earlier, London has been hailed as a huge success with over double the crowds of the games before it and an enormous rise in public and media backing.
As a key architect of the success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games Chris talks about his role as Director of Integration, the overall approach to the games, why inclusion matters and, of course, his love of deep fried tempura!
Top of the league clubs: Derby County, Wrexham, Tranmere Rovers, Egham Town; all have been named as examples of excellence in making their clubs truly welcoming of disabled supporters. You will note that none of these clubs are in the Premier League.
In September 2015 the Premier League promised to make all clubs accessible to disabled people. The House of Commons Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport report, published today (January 16 2017) states that it is
“very clear” that sports clubs, notably many of those with very considerable income and resources, have not done anywhere near enough for sports fans with disabilities in recent years, despite the increase in income many of those clubs have enjoyed.” The House of Commons Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport report, 2017
Given the examples above I would say it is clearly a question of will rather than resources and Greg Clarke of the Football Association agrees, telling the committee:
“that for the Premier League the problem was not money”. Greg Clarke, Football Association
Football is our national sport, beloved by so many of us, and it needs to rediscover its moral compass. If not on its own then with some help. Both the commons committee and the Minister for Sport have said they would support legal action against clubs that miss the August deadline and Bill Bush, executive director at the Premier League spoke of fines of up to £25,000.
I would urge both the Premier League and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to use all means at their disposal to ensure that disabled supporters are no longer treated as second class citizens when they want to support their football team.Chris Holmes
Chris’s letter to the Times: Football’s Failure
Watch Channel 4’s report: Are football stadia no go for disabled?
BBC Sport: Disabled access: Premier League clubs may face sanctions over lack of improvement