All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak

All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak
All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak - © Jennifer Johnson 2008

Friday, September 14, 2012

Post Commentary on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games - Observations on Disability, Access and Legacy


In a slight divergence from accessible tourism research, this article creates a series of links to commentary on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was certainly a fascinating period for disability, access and accessible tourism brought about by a major sport event. The interdependent and overlapping nature of the areas that we work mean that there are always opportunities for cross promoting equity, diversity and sustainability. While I enjoyed the spectacle, I was actively involved in writing a series of articles about alternative perspectives on the games themselves, sport participation for people with disability, equity in the Paralympic games and what I titled the dark side of the Paralympics (cheating).

While from a distance the elite athletes were incredibly well taken care of, broke a myriad of world records and were watched by a sell-out crowds, there was still a number of serious issues of discrimination from the perspective of spectators. The most noted of these were issues that involved segregated seating policies, segregated ticket booking policies and the inability to seat a man and his guide dog in a premium seat location - articles and links below.


The only good thing about the guide dog incident was that the authorities were just as discriminatory towards VIPs as they work towards the general public as the person involved was an ex-member of the British Parliament! How could these basic considerations in the service blueprint that was a case of foreseeable customer service failure happen at the games that did everything else so well? 

On an accessible tourism front there were some good news stories about some very accessible experiences for those people lucky enough to make it to the games were a local Londoner and Paralympic games swimming medallist Andy Gilbert offers his favourite accessible places to visit.


Figure 1: London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Evaluation Framework (UK Department of Sport, Media and Culture, 2009)

Now the challenge for London is to live up to the hype of legacy planning. Hopefully accessible tourism will be one of the legacy outcomes from the games. However, this won't just eventuate and requires strategic planning and resourcing. London has become the first Olympic and Paralympic games to extensively plan for impacts and legacy evaluation through an extensive framework shown in Figure 1 (UK Department for Culture Media and Sport, 2009). Unlike the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which only started to plan for legacy some years after the games had finished (Cashman, 2006; Cashman & Darcy, 2008; Darcy & Appleby, 2011), only time will tell as to what the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be and how well it is evaluated.


References
Cashman, R. (2006). The bitter-sweet awakening: the legacy of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games: Walla Walla Press in conjunction with the Australian Centre for Olympic Studies, University of Technology, Sydney.
Cashman, R., & Darcy, S. (Eds.). (2008). Benchmark Games: The Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Petersham, NSW Australia: Walla Walla Press in conjunction with the Australian Centre for Olympic Studies.
Darcy, S., & Appleby, L. (2011). Sydney 2000: Moving from Post-Hoc Legacy to Strategic Vision and Operational Partnership. In D. Legg & K. Gilbert (Eds.), Paralympic Legacies (pp. 75-98). Champaign, IL USA: Common Ground Publishing LLC.
UK Department for Culture Media and Sport. (2009). London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Impacts and Legacy Evaluation Framework: Final Report   Retrieved from http://www.gamesmonitor.org.uk/files/DCMS_Olympic_Evaluation_final_report.pdf


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