As the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games approaches, we have a unique opportunity to ensure we host the most inclusive and accessible Games in the world.
Our incredible cities will be on display, beamed across the world into people’s homes. We want to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward every step of the way, so we showcase our attractive, accessible and welcoming environment that we call home.
Here are a few ways we can ensure that happens.
It seems obvious but if we’re are going to be more inclusive, we need to use more inclusive language – especially when referring to the Games by name.
All too often we hear the ‘Olympic Games’ used a catch-all term for both events. But it’s not just the Olympics – it’s the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Unfortunately, sometimes the Paralympic component of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is forgotten or overlooked when speaking broadly about this international event – all too often hearing that we will be hosting the Brisbane 2032 Olympics.
Language matters and if we need to shorten it, we should say the Brisbane 2032 Games.
I would love to see equitable support for Olympic and Paralympic athletes going into 2032.
The Federal Government’s recent announcement that Paralympians will receive the same medal bonuses as Olympic athletes is a welcome start.
However, we need to ensure that level of support is filtered through down to the level of the individual sportsperson because in some instances the costs associated with para-sport participation is much higher.
For example, there are some sports such as wheelchair rugby or basketball that require expensive equipment to participate. It would be great to see more financial support directed at these athletes who incur these costs before they even get on the field.
What we’ve seen showcased in 2020 Tokyo Games is an amazing ability for sport to celebrate diversity. For our Games to be the most inclusive, we need to think about the different representative groups we have who can celebrate diversity.
This means ensuring there is diversity represented from the top down – not just in visible positions such as greeters, ushers, and ambassadors. People who have disabilities should be included in everything from decision making, strategic planning, designing, implementing, communicating and of course welcoming international spectators to the Games.
We have a unique opportunity to make our infrastructure the most accessible in the world.
I’m talking about sporting stadiums, transport, parking – our wonderful cities that will be showcased on the world stage.
At the moment, universal design is the minimum standard for accessibility. It’s a low bar we should be aiming to jump over. For example, instead of having ramp access at the rear of a building, it should be at the front so a person who needs to use it has the same experience entering the venue as someone without a disability.
This is important if we want to achieve equality.
But it’s more generally about how someone uses a venue. Are the brail walks and signage easily accessible for a blind person? Is there space for wheelchairs to be stored? Are there lifts near the stairs? What about bathrooms? Are there enough to cater for disabled people who need them? Is it possible to just make all the bathrooms accessible so everyone can use them?
Building inclusive spaces from the outset makes sense and leads to less adaptations being required.
Inclusive sport in schools
In the lead up to the 2032 Games, we’re going to see a lot of sport initiatives in schools, which will deliver big benefits to grass-roots sports clubs.
What we want, is for schools to provide inclusive sport options. This means actively encouraging sports such as wheelchair basketball to be integrated into school settings. Wheelchair basketball is an example of a sport where people with and without a disability can play together. The wheelchair is just the piece of sporting equipment that enables you to play.
The more people we have playing inclusive sport, whether they’re disabled or not, the better quality competition opportunities for disabled people we’ll have. I’d like to see schools lead the way in this space so that students with disabilities have access to PE and sport just like their non-disabled peers.
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