Paralympics To Vote On Inclusion Of Athletes With Intellectual Disabilities
An international committee will decide this weekend whether to allow athletes with intellectual disabilities to compete in the 2012 Paralympics.
Such athletes previously participated in the Paralympics, but were banned from the games after it was discovered that members of the Spanish basketball team at the 2000 games in Sydney lied about having intellectual disabilities.
In order to be reinstated officials said they needed strict guidelines to be put in place to determine who does and does not have such disabilities.
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Now, after missing the 2004 games in Athens and the 2008 games in Beijing, elite athletes with intellectual disabilities have their sites set on London in 2012. A system to determine eligibility has been proposed and the International Paralympic Committee is expected to make a decision about reinstatement this weekend at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Meanwhile the U.S. Paralympics Committee is opposed to reinstatement. Disability advocates say that committee representatives told them in recent conversations that people with intellectual disabilities are best served by Special Olympics and that including this population would be harmful to the Paralympics brand and would take away resources from athletes with physical disabilities.
That doesn’t sit well with Tracy Lea whose son is a competitive cyclist and has an intellectual disability.
“Separate but equal seems to be just fine for many. But the real issue at hand now is how a Congressionally charted organization can be allowed to get away with a clearly discriminatory ‘no’ vote,” says Lea who is actively lobbying for the international committee to include people with intellectual disabilities in the upcoming Paralympic games.
Representatives from the U.S. Paralympics Committee did not return calls seeking comment.