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Editorial : Equal treatment for disabled athletes in continuation of Paralympic spirit

【明報專訊】The curtain has fallen on the Tokyo Paralympic Games. In terms of the medal count, the Hong Kong team's performance this year has not matched the previous Games. Nevertheless, Hong Kong athletes' industriousness and "never-give-up" spirit are still deserving of our recognition and support. This year's Paralympic Games were also the first to be broadcast live on TV in Hong Kong, receiving the highest degree of attention from the public ever. The Hong Kong government should seize this momentum by investing more heavily into the promotion of the sports participation of people with disabilities. It should also actively promote the message of "A Society for All".

Yesterday, the Hong Kong team added 1 silver and 1 bronze to their tally through the badminton event. Overall, the Hong Kong team has completed the Tokyo Paralympic Games with a total of 2 silvers and 3 bronzes. As for the previous two Paralympic Games, the Hong Kong team won 3 golds, 3 silvers and 6 bronzes in London, and 2 golds, 2 silvers and 2 bronzes in Rio de Janeiro. Looking at the numbers of medals merely, it is true that the Hong Kong team's performance this year has not been as good as before. However, it must be pointed out that this year's Hong Kong team has been a mix of veterans and new blood, the latter under the guidance of the former. While half of the 24 players participated in the Paralympics for the first time, there were veterans such as Leung Yuk Wing, a five-time participant in the Games, and Yu Chui Yee leading the charge. The Hong Kong team has certainly given its best, having achieved such results at a time when an older generation of players are handing over the baton to a younger generation. In this year's Paralympics, the Hong Kong team has narrowly missed medals by coming fourth in events such as swimming and table tennis, which is regrettable. Taking stock of their individual performance in the Games, many players have mentioned that their preparations were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. There had been no competition for a year, and this had affected their form. One either wins or loses in a competition. The most important thing, however, is not to be arrogant when winning or discouraged when losing. Sportsmanship should not be replaced by an emphasis on medals only.

In many ways, the Tokyo Paralympics have marked "the first" for the Hong Kong team. What has excited the team most is the fact that the Paralympics were broadcast live on TV for the first time ever in Hong Kong. RTHK broadcast the Games for an average of 5 hours a day, including most of the matches that the Hong Kong team participated in. Whenever the Hong Kong team's campaign for medals had reached a critical moment, some commercial TV stations also broadcast the Games live showing the Hong Kong team's performance in real time. Many members of the Hong Kong team have described this as their dream come true that went a long way towards boosting their morale. The government had purchased the rights to broadcast the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this year and given them to TV stations. The outcome has been very good, particularly given the low level of public attention for the Paralympics for so long. The TV broadcasts have made more Hong Kong citizens cheer for the Hong Kong team, allowed the atmosphere of social support for sports development since the Tokyo Olympics to continue, and allowed more people to focus on athletes with disabilities. The practice of broadcasting the Games deserves to go on.

Hong Kong Paralympic athletes, like Olympic athletes, fight for glory for Hong Kong. Compared with able-bodied athletes, disabled athletes need more support in training and daily lives. All sectors should not begrudge giving their support for these athletes. The government even has a responsibility to build a more equal and tolerant social environment for all people with disabilities to give them the opportunities to pursue their dreams.

明報社評2021.09.06:發揚殘奧精神正能量 公平對待殘疾運動員

東京殘疾人奧運會落幕,港隊獎牌成績較上屆遜色,然而運動員拼搏落力、永不言棄的精神,依然值得肯定和支持。今屆殘奧本港首度有電視直播,公眾關注度歷來最高,港府應把握這個勢頭,投入更多資源,推動殘疾人士運動,積極宣揚「傷健一家」信息。

昨天港隊在羽毛球項目增添1銀1銅,以合計2銀3銅的成績,完成今屆東京殘疾人奧運賽事。之前兩屆賽事,港隊在倫敦摘下3金3銀6銅,在里約則奪得2金2銀2銅。單計獎牌,本屆港隊的成績,確是有所不及,然而必須指出的是,港隊代表團今屆陣容乃是以老帶新,24名選手有一半是首次參與此盛事,由「五朝元老」梁育榮及余翠怡等老將領軍奮戰,新老交接下有此成績,已是盡了全力。回顧今屆賽事,港隊代表在游泳、乒乓球等多個項目,皆以些微差距位列「梗頸四」,與獎牌緣慳一面,多少有點可惜,多名選手總結個人表現,皆提到今屆備戰受疫情影響,長達一年時間沒有比賽,影響了狀態。比賽必然有勝有負,最重要是勝不驕、敗不餒,體育精神不應被「唯獎牌論」取代。

對港隊代表來說,本屆殘疾人奧運會有不少「第一次」,最令運動員雀躍的,是今屆殘奧本港首度有電視直播。港台平均每天直播5小時,包括港隊有份參與的大部分賽事,每當來到爭牌關鍵時刻,部分商營電視台亦會安排現場轉播,港隊代表在競技場上的表現,可以第一時間呈現在觀眾眼前,不少運動員都形容,這是他們夢寐以求的心願,對士氣鬥爭很有幫助。政府購下今屆東京奧運及殘奧轉播權,交予電視台播放,效果相當好,尤其是以往殘奧公眾關注度甚低,電視轉播讓更多市民為港隊代表打氣,延續東奧以來社會支持體育發展的氣氛,亦令更多人關注殘疾運動員,今屆的轉播安排,值得長遠傳承下去。

本港殘奧運動員跟奧運選手一樣,都是為港爭光,比起健全運動員,殘疾選手在訓練和生活等各方面,需要更多支援,各界不應吝於協助,政府更有責任為所有殘疾人士,提供更平等更包容的社會環境,讓他們也有追夢的機會。

■Glossary 生字

tally : a record of the number or amount of sth, especially one that you can keep adding to

lead the charge : to make a strong effort to do something

form : how fit and healthy sb is; the state of being fit and healthy

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