BELGA

Belgians see our Paralympians as role models

According to a survey carried out by researchers at Brussels’ Dutch-medium free university (VUB) an overwhelming majority of people in Belgium look up to the sportsmen and women that have been competing in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. 

The VUB survey into attitudes towards our country’s Paralympians found that 86% of respondents saw them as role models. Meanwhile, 82% of respondents said that they feel that the Paralympians have contributed to the promotion of inclusion of disabled people in society.

79% of those that took part in the survey said that they believe that participation in sport should be encouraged among young people that are living with a disability.

The Paralympics in Tokyo has received greater media coverage than previous Paralympic Games. This seems more than justified not only from the point of view of diversity and inclusion, but also as the public at large is interest in our Paralympians performances at the games. Of those surveyed 73% said that they found it important that Belgium wins medals at the Paralympic Games. Meanwhile, 80% said that that a Paralympic medal is just as important as an Olympic one.

Despite the enthusiasm and respect for Paralympic athletes among the general, just 4% of the budget allocated to high-level sport in Flanders goes to high-level sport practiced by people living with a disability.

VUB’s Professor Veerle De Bosscher told journalists that this is far too little.

“To equal or better the 15 medals won this year at the next (Paralympic) games, more resources are needed to support the Paralympic athletes and their entourage. If high-level sport has a high social value, then you should dare to invest more.”

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