Paralympics merge with the Olympics?

For years it has always been the Olympic Games and the Paralympics, and we’ve always accepted it as such. Two separate competitions, siblings of a higher cause, but there’s a rumbling of change happening out there – a possible merger of the two that could be considered after 2020.

To some, the idea of this even happening is inconceivable. How can you mix able-bodied athletes with disabled athletes? That’s not exactly what they’re proposing. While it was great to see Oscar Pretorius run alongside able-bodied athletes in the Olympic Games in London, we all know that won’t happen very often. Able-bodied athletes and disabled athletes can never compete equally, but why do their competitions have to happen separately?

The idea is to get rid of the ‘Paralympics’ in name completely, and just have the Olympics. People say, “Hey if you want to be treated the same, let’s not have a separate competition for you.” So instead of separate Paralympic sports, all the adapted sports we know and love – quad rugby, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, adapted cycling, etc – will now be known as simply ‘Olympic’ sports. If I were an adapted athlete, I actually might like this proposed change.

So what would happen if the Paralympics no longer happened two weeks after the Olympics? All of the Paralympic competitions would have to be scheduled into the mix, and this is the tricky part. You’d undoubtedly have to make the Olympics longer because the venues would have to be used for quite a few more events.

What do you think of this proposed change? The argument is that if disabled athletes are so intent on wanting to be treated equally, than why the separate competition? Get rid of it! But famous British Paralympian Tanni-Grey Thompson personally thinks it’s a bad idea. She says it would make the Olympics too long, and that the media would definitely give preference to the able-bodied events.

The argument for the merger however is pretty strong. If they merged, the Paralympics would definitely get television coverage. Additionally, medals won by Paralympic athletes would contribute to the nation’s medal count (which is pretty awesome).

What do you think? Would a merger be best for the future of adapted athletics?

- Read an opinion in favor of the merger from the Slate

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