Paralympics and Deaflympics are two international multi-sport event organized for athletes with range of disabilities and this is to ensure that talented persons in sport who fall within either of any one of the two can still actively take part in sport thereby becoming relevant.
While Paralympics considers athletes with impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency among others. On the other hand, Deaflympics considers athletes with deaf impediments.
Do They Share Similarities?
- They are both sanctioned by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and are organized every four years
- They are exclusively for athletes with deformities or defects and at such normal humans are exempted
- Just like the Olympics, athletes in both the Paralympics and Deaflympics have to go through qualifiers from their various continents to take part in the event
- Participants in both events are referred to as athletes
How About Differences?
While the duo share similarities, it is the differences that actually sets them apart. Here are some of the differences
- The Paralympics is hosted by nations who host the Olympics and it comes immediately after the Olympics, while the Deaflympics has a different date structure. It does not even come in an Olympic year
- The Paralympics enjoy large crowd followership as it gives room for cheering and shouting while that may not be realizable with Deaflympics because its not guided with sound
- Use of starter’s guns, bullhorn commands or referee whistles are obtainable with Paralympics, but it is not same with Deaflympics as sign language are basically used in officiating.
What Makes Paralympic More Popular Than The Deaflympics In Nigeria?
This is basically the main thrust of this article and attempt will be made to look at some considered factors that seem to make the Paralympics more popular than Deaflympics in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Outstanding Performance at the Paralympics
So far at the Paralympics, Nigeria have 70 medals (36 Gold, 18 Silver, 16 Bronze) in overall performance, while the Olympics itself had given 21 medals (3 Gold, 9 Silver, 9 Bronze) in over-all performance. However, Deaflympics has role in 3 medals in all, 2 Silver medals at the Taipei 2009 Deaflympics and 1 Bronze medal at the Sofia 2013 Deaflympics. However, the Paralympics still have an average performance of 4.9 gold medals from 8 appearances.
During the Atlanta 1996 Olympics when Nigeria had her best performance at the Olympics by winning a total of 6 medals which comprised of 2 gold,1 Silver and 3 Bronze medals, little or nothing was said about the 8 medals which comprised of 3 gold, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze that were won later at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympics.
This goes a long way in confirming that Nigerians are medals thirsty and a rapid improvement at the Olympics could affect Nigerians loyalty to the Paralympics let alone giving attention to the Deaflympics. Nigeria’s worst performance of 3 gold medals at the Barcelona 1992 Summer Paralympics is still better of her achievement at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics.
Poor or Little Media Awareness
In 2011 while members of the Nigeria Deaf Sports Federation went searching for sponsorship ahead of the Deaflympics, this writer observed that some media persons have little or no knowledge of the existence of the Deaflympics.
This makes it practically difficult for it to be talked about as there is a need for those who project sport in Nigeria to be fully aware of it’s existence before they enlightened the masses about it. Though, the then Secretary-General of the Nigeria Deaf Sport Federation Mr. Lukman Agbabiaka disagreed with this, he believes that most of them are aware of the existence of the Deaflympics, but probably are not interested in talking about it.
However, the media in Nigeria have not done enough in projecting the Deaflympics, as this has become necessary to enable deaf athletes leverage on the power of the media to create more awareness about the Deaflympics.
Also, at the Turkey Deaflympics in 2017, Nigeria could have made a positive impact but was denied entry visa and this made the situation more difficult. Sadly, the media in Nigeria did not talk about this apparently because no media officer was assigned to the team.
Nigeria’s Higher Participation At Paralympics Than Deaflympics
Nigeria have participated more at the Paralympics than the Deaflympics, this could also be one of the reasons why it is more popular than the Deaflympics in Nigeria. Nigeria’s first participation at the Paralympics was at the Barcelona 1992 Summer Paralympics, while she made her debut at the Deaflympics at the Taipei 2009 Deaflympics.
Nigeria will need to participate more at the Deaflympics to enable her create more awareness about it in the media for it to gain more recognition.
Paralympics Following-Up On Olympics
This could also be a major boost for the Paralympics over the Deaflympics, as their event comes up after the Olympics. It is probably believed that if the Deaflympics were put immediately after the Olympic Games, maybe the situation could become same as Nigerians may begin to follow it up.
So much need to be done to make Deaflympics become a medal prospect tournament for Nigeria. Amongst such are a review of our approach towards funding of their activities as well as affording them the opportunity to participate while we provide all the necessary financial support needed for such.