The politics and policy of inclusion and technology in Paralympic sport: beyond Pistorius

Andy Smith, Nigel Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This article re-examines some of the complex policy issues and politics associated with two key features of the contemporary Paralympic sport movement: the inclusion in mainstream sports competitions of disabled athletes and the sports in which they complete, and the use by disabled athletes of various technologies to assist their performance. It is argued that, at least at an ideological level, there is a strong link between the inclusion of disabled athletes, the sports they play, and the events in which they compete in mainstream settings, and the idea that inclusion helps change social attitudes towards disabled people and enhance their sporting experiences is one which is frequently stressed by many people involved in both Olympic and Paralympic sport. An examination of certain aspects of the organization of Paralympic sport, and of sport more broadly, however, casts some doubt on the assumed benefits of inclusion and the promotion of more favourable attitudes and experiences among disabled people and other members of the wider society. In particular, it is argued that it is churlish to expect that hosting a single one-off sporting event such as the London 2012 Paralympic Games will have the effect of reversing the deep-seated inequalities and complex social problems that have long beset the lives of many disabled people, and which are likely to be hardened by controversial changes in social welfare policy in Britain and elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-410
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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