International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven believes improved American television and online coverage of this year’s event in Rio de Janeiro will help boost awareness of people with disabilities here.
It follows the publication of a survey by Benenson Strategy Group suggesting there is room for improvement in attitudes.
A total of 92 per cent of respondents think there are problems with the way people with disabilities are treated in the US and 71 per cent think people with disabilities are often ignored or forgotten about
Half also claim to have witnessed someone being discriminated against because of a disability.
NBC Sports has committed to 66 hours of coverage for the Paralympic Games to follow on from the 50 hours provided at Sochi 2014, something Sir Philip believes will help change perceptions.
“Over the years, the Paralympic Games have developed a strong track record for changing and challenging deep-rooted views in society regarding disability,” said the Briton, speaking here at the USOC Media Summit on a day marking exactly six months until the Opening Ceremony on September 7.
“Thanks to widespread media coverage of Beijing 2008 and London 2012, the Paralympics have established themselves as the world’s number one sporting event for driving social inclusion.
“The United States has always been a global leader in social change, including in regards to disabilities; however, research indicates that there is still room for the US to grow, and Rio 2016 can be the catalyst for another level of education and inclusion.
“I am confident that with more TV coverage than ever before in the U.S., the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games are the best opportunity to further transform US attitudes.”
This year’s Paralympic Games are set to be even bigger than London 2012, with 4,350 athletes competing in 22 sports.
It is hoped the cumulative global television audience will exceed four billion people for the first time, following on from the success in the British capital.
There remain concerns, however, over low tickets sales with six month to go.
Rio 2016 organisers revealed last week that only 12 to 15 per cent of tickets have been sold.
- By Nick Butler at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz