Elite disability sport: The Paralympic Games
Elsewhere in this book we have examined the complex structure, organization and provision of disability sport at the local and national levels. In particular, we drew attention to the roles played by disability sport organizations (Chapter 2), local authorities (Chapter 3), national governing bodies of sport (Chapter 4) and schools (Chapter 5), in providing opportunities for disabled people to participate in recreational and competitive sport. The central objective of this chapter is to examine the structure and organization of elite level disability sport by focusing, in particular, on the most well-known elite disability sport competition: the Summer Paralympic Games. In doing so, we shall focus on just three of the contemporary issues associated with the Paralympics, including: the on-going debate surrounding the classification of athletes; the inclusion of Paralympic athletes and disability sport events in the Olympic Games; and the use of assistive technology by Paralympians. We are not, therefore, centrally concerned with other international disability sport competitions such as the Deaflympics or Special Olympics, both of which have been explored in greater detail elsewhere (e.g. DePauw and Gavron, 2005). We will also not attempt to examine the complex issues surrounding the use of drugs by Paralympians, the marketing of the Paralympics in conjunction with the Olympic Games, or the increasing political use of the Paralympics as a tool for achieving sporting and non-sport objectives such as economic regeneration, international development and political relations, the promotion of health and social inclusion.