Public support for empowering Paralympians to compete at the Olympic Games, survey suggests

4 April 2016

48% agree sporting competitions for disabled athletes should be integrated. 29% disagree.

  • Just 29% of public oppose closer integration of competitions for disabled and non-disabled athletes.
  • Paralympian long-jumper Markus Rehm, an amputee, currently barred from competing at the Olympics.

Leonard Cheshire Disability’s pre-Paralympic Games survey of over 2,000 people has found there is an interesting level of public support for integrating sporting competitions for disabled athletes into the Olympic Games.

48% agreed, while only 29% of the public disagreed.

Also interestingly, there was no significant percentage difference found between the views of disabled and non-disabled people.

What would integration look like?

The survey has been conducted following developments since London 2012, when a prosthetic-limbed runner was permitted to compete alongside non-disabled athletes at an Olympic Games for the first time.

Last year multi-gold medal winning Paralympian David Weir CBE lobbied for wheelchair athletes to be allowed to compete on the mainstream athletics circuit.

This year Markus Rehm, a long jumper with a prosthetic limb, has jumped further than the distance recorded when Greg Rutherford MBE won gold on home soil at the London 2012 Olympics.

Markus has said he would like to participate on the Rio Olympics’ stage, even if not permitted to compete for a medal.

‘Leonard Cheshire Disability is constantly measuring and reflecting on the views of the disabled people we support, as well as the views of non-disabled people,’ said Peter Jenkins, managing director of external affairs, Leonard Cheshire Disability.

The survey commissioned by Leonard Cheshire Disability with ComRes has found there is clearly a range of views out there.

Ultimately any changes to the status quo are a matter for the International Paralympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee.

We at Leonard Cheshire Disability are all looking forward to this year’s Paralympics — a fantastic showcase for the phenomenal sporting feats being achieved by disabled people.

Markus Rehm told media outlets last month:

‘Being at the Olympics representing my country would be a special feeling. I can represent Paralympic sport as well, and it would be an amazing chance to show what Paralympic athletes are able to achieve.’

Alastair Hignell CBE, Leonard Cheshire Disability trustee, England rugby international and respected sports broadcaster said:

‘The findings thrown up by this research are extremely interesting, and will no doubt trigger further debate, which is only right.

‘Leonard Cheshire Disability supports all disabled athletes. We also care passionately about creating greater sporting and exercise opportunities for disabled people wanting to participate purely for leisure.

‘The benefits for both physical and mental health are the same for everyone.’

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Notes for editors

  1. Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people. Our services include high-quality care and community support together with innovative projects supporting disabled people into education, employment and entrepreneurship. Worldwide, our global alliance of Cheshire partners supports disabled people into education and employment, and works in more than 50 countries.
  2. Data: 2,051 GB adults were interviewed online between 14 and 15 October 2015. Data tables are available at ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.