Leveraging the London 2012 Paralympic Games: What legacy for people with disabilities?

Ian Brittain, A. Beacom

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    The International Paralympic Committee, UK Government and the Organising Committee for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games all contended that the London 2012 Paralympic Games would positively impact the lives of disabled people in the UK, particularly with regard to changing non-disabled attitudes towards disability. All three have claimed partial success during the course of the four year period (Olympiad) separating the London and Rio Paralympic Games. However, this is at odds with the findings of Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) and the experiences of disabled individuals. This paper, considers the claims of both sides against a backdrop of public policies that are targeting large scale benefits cuts, the media coverage of which actually appears to be hardening attitudes towards anyone on benefits and negating any positive impacts from the Games themselves. It argues that the continued predominance of ‘ableist’ perspectives on disability underpins many of the challenges faced by disabled people. The paper adopts a historical perspective on the development of legacy based foundations upon which the disability sport and Paralympic movements originated. It contends that the gradual move towards an elite ‘Olympic’ sports model of competition has actually served to undermine these foundations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)499-521
    JournalJournal of Sport and Social Issues
    Issue number6
    Early online date20 Jun 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


    • Paralympic
    • Legacy
    • London 2012
    • Disabled People
    • Benefits Cuts


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