Canada Lacks in TV Coverage of 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo

Many Canadians spent time this summer watching their country compete in the largest athletic competition in the world, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, watching athletes compete at the highest level, in events that are rarely televised makes for a large audience across the nation. For Canadians who enjoy cheering on their nation’s Paralympic athletes, CBC broadcast a record number of 120 hours of Canadian Paralympic action. This is a significant improvement from the 50 hours of Paralympic coverage that was available to Canadians in 2010. Although the amount of coverage of the Paralympic Games in Canada has improved, it is still nothing close to the near 4000 hours of coverage available for the Olympic games.  

Silver medalist Brent Lakatos participating in the T53 100m race in Tokyo 2020. (Source: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

The long-time stigma around people with disabilities creates an aura of helplessness and struggle around them. This was shown in the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games, where there was an excessive focus on the personal problems of the Paralympians, rather than showing them training or practicing for their sport. This focus on their problems only reinforced the stigma of the struggle these athletes are dealing with. Progress has been made though. Researchers found between the 2000 Sydney games and the 2008 Beijing games there appears to have been a growth in photo coverage for Paralympians. Unfortunately, as the number of photos taken went up, the more static the photos became with the most common picture taken was simply those of athletes smiling. The athletes were not shown participating in their sport, which would allow more people to appreciate them as athletes. 

With the 2022 Paralympic games in Beijing starting in March, we hope to see a substantial increase in coverage and recognition for the incredible athletes that will be competing. Hopefully one day, we will see an equal amount of recognition for Paralympic and Olympic athletes alike.


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