UN Special Adviser Calls for Greater Paralympic Media Coverage

  Wilfried Lemke
  Wilfried Lemke

Wilfried Lemke, the Special Adviser to the United Nations
Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, has called on the
worldwide media to give greater coverage to Paralympic sports and other sports
for people with disabilities.

Speaking on a visit to the International Paralympic Committee’s
headquarters in Bonn, Germany, Lemke said he was a big supporter of the
Paralympic Games and felt that the movement could benefit from TV stations
giving it greater airtime.

“I have seldom witnessed moments in sport which were as inspiring
as those seen in sport for people with a disability,” Lemke stated in a
press release. “That is why a worldwide campaign to support all those
people who are participating in sports for people with a disability — be
it physical or mental — could make a big difference.”

Appointed in March 2008 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
Lemke’s key responsibility is to promote sports as an instrument for
development and peace, both within the United Nations system and externally. As
part of his UN mandate he has set as one of his top priorities the promotion
and support for people living with a disability. To achieve this, he must face
some major challenges ahead, but a breakthrough moment may be all that it

“People living with a disability, regardless of which disability,
are still not given all the opportunities they should be given, in particular
in the field of sports. To be honest I am afraid we’re a long away from
that,” Lemke stated. “There is still a lot to do to convince
stakeholders that sport for people with disability should be given more
attention and support, and to encourage governments that have not done so to
accede to, ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, which contains important provisions on

He added that he hopes to convince the media to broadcast Champions
League Games and Olympic Games, raising the visibility of Paralympic athletes
and other athletes with disabilities.

“I was pleased to see over the course of the Paralympic Games in
Beijing that the attitude towards people with a disability was changing in a
positive way within the Chinese society, which counts the world’s largest
population with disabilities,” Lemke stated. “Before the Games, much
more people were ashamed to have a child with a disability. Now due to the
Paralympic Games doors are opening, which is encouraging.”

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