【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.
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