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Why do mass-media pay little attention to Paralympics?

25/03/2014

We decide to ask this question to people who work in mass-media. Some of them consider that “Paralympic silence” is the Soviet habit, others – that it is the position of TV-channels’ editors. Let’s look into the matter.

Sergey Drozdovskiy, project coordinator of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities:

- A person who is not familiar with Olympic peculiarities and who bought tickets to the Paralympics is not likely to understand the difference. This year almost all places were occupied, it was difficult to buy tickets. What is happening? People want a show! I heard some people were discussing an interesting thing: “Why wouldn’t they join Paralympics and Olympics?! These two events are both equally interesting!” They were people who visited the events. If you think in a stereotype way you could have imagined that stadiums were filled with fans with disabilities. But there were not a lot of them in percentage terms. Today’s Paralympics is not a “soap opera” about heroism and pity; they are a show of full value. Why aren’t they interesting to the public? Because they are not shown on TV although there are a lot of interesting moments.

It is not clear why they are not broadcasted. People have the interest! Inability or unwillingness to make Paralympics a habitual show is the question to managers and editors of mass-media. You can measure people’s interest to this or that event, but in order to do it you have to start doing it.

What we see here is the discrimination! National channels existing for the money of taxpayers for no reasons refuse their fans in the possibility to watch Paralympics. I speak about national state channels buying Olympics broadcasting and not buying Paralympics. For the majority of Belarusian fans with disabilities it is the only way to join their team. How can we think about popularization and development of sport movement among disabled with such an attitude?

Tatsiana Kuznetsova, PR-specialist:

- According to my observations the topic of Paralympics is almost completely pushed out from mass-media and is covered mainly by special mass-media connected to disability.

It turns out that this event can’t leave the frames of community of people this or that way connected to the topic of disability. I think it shows the common isolated situation with persons with disabilities in our society and little interest to the life of persons with disabilities in common. Moreover, Paralympics are held immediately after the Olympics and are taken as something playing a secondary role in comparison with the main achievements of the national team.

Tatsiana Zharnosek, sports journalist:

- Today Paralympics are less popular than Olympics, at least in our country. And this fact doesn’t depend on the results of our sportsmen. There are competitions in which our Paralympic sportsmen won more medals than “nondisabled” sportsmen. But unfortunately such competitions are not considered to be “elite”. But it seems to me that it is not the discrimination of people with disabilities. I recollect the article by Alexander Vlasov “Big and very small sport”. It happened that from Soviet time mass-media pay more attention to “Sport of high achievements”. Official thought that only it could bring fame to the state. Other competitions such as: junior, student, Paralympic were always not so important. That is why such competitions had no chance to have big audience and fans usually were people who enjoyed a lot some definite kind of sport or people close to sportsmen.

But I think that the situation is changing. TV channels started to buy broadcasts of junior tournaments and Student Games more often; several years ago they have started to show Paralympics. Of course such competitions still have fewer fans, but these are TV broadcasts that help to increase their number.