The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the 2020 Summer Paralympics are the embodiment of diversity and inclusion. Back in 1896, the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, had a vision for sport not just as physical activity but as a means of encouraging fair play and respect for fellow athletes as men and women of different races, religions and nationalities work peacefully together in competition towards common goals. Today, The Olympic Movement works to promote peace and a sense of brotherhood throughout the world.
“…the Games are not the property of any country or of any particular race, and they cannot be monopolised by any group whatsoever… They are global. All people must be allowed in, without debate…” said Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games have been described as “the most important in our history” by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons. He says this is because they come after the global pandemic has highlighted the challenges experienced by people with disabilities.
Parsons says the Paralympic Games “is the only event in humanity that puts persons with disabilities at the centre stage. It’s the moment we can give the world’s billion people with a disability a voice in a moment where they most need to be heard because they have been left behind during a crisis.
“I believe the Paralympics are a platform to bring disability to the heart of inclusion discussion. This is why the Games are so important and we should make every effort to celebrate them.”
Caroline Casey is a disability activist and founder of The Valuable 500, which helps organisations initiate inclusion policies. She tells the US broadcaster CNBC: “Aside from the fact that it’s an incredible moment for athletes, all athletes — Paralympian athletes or Olympian athletes — it’s a great moment for us to challenge the perceptions of inclusivity… Why on earth would any business in their right mind leave the value of 15% to 20% of our global population behind, which is a spending power of $13 trillion?”
She believes the Paralympics offers an opportunity for businesses to employ people with disabilities and help the global coronavirus recovery. Caroline gives the example of the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, after which employment among workers with disabilities increased.