Poor media coverage draws flak

Leading a campaign on the significant drop in media coverage in the build-up to the Rio Paralympic Games starting on Wednesday, Rev. Zenji Nio, the first person of Indian origin who serves as the official chaplain of the Olympics and the Paralympics, wondered why the country was so apathetic towards its own para-athletes.

Rev. Nio, who decided to skip Wednesday’s Paralympics opening ceremony to raise the issue in India, said the country did not understand the importance of covering the Paralympics well.

“People do not understand how important India is in the Olympic Village. Seven cultural events organised at the Games Village had an imprint of the Indian culture and all big countries came to the Indian tent (during the Olympics). The world wants India to be the moral leader and the media coverage of the Paralympics does sit well with its image,” said Rev. Nio at an event organised by Civil Welfare Foundation (CWF) on Tuesday.

“Why are not we focusing on the Paralympics and what can be done so that by the 2020 Tokyo Games we have a better scenario?” asked Rev. Nio, who would fly back to Rio for the Paralympics.

According to information shared by CWF, the broadcasting rights of the Rio Paralympic Games has not been bought by either any private sports channel or public broadcaster Doordarshan. “The cost of the rights did not rise much from London to Rio (Games) as it did from Beijing to London,” said a statement, adding even smaller countries from Africa have bought Paralympics broadcast rights.

Altogether 19 Indians, including three women para-athletes (for the first time), have qualified for the Rio Paralympics in comparison to 10 for the London Games.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India will cheer the para-athletes in Rio but without any telecast how we are going to cheer them?” asked Suchandra Ganguly of CWF.

The CWF along with Rev. Nio will hold another awareness programme in Delhi on Wednesday.

Indians at Rio Paralympics:

T. Mariyappan, Varun Singh, Sharad Kumar (T-42) and Ram Pal (T-47) [high jump, Sept. 10-17]; Devendra Jhanjariya, Rinku, Sundar Singh Gurjar (F-46) (F-57), Narender Ranbir and Sandeep Chaudhary (F-44) [javelin, Sept. 10-14]; Amit Saroha (F-51, F-52) and Dharambir Singh (F-51) [discus/club throw, Sept. 12-16]; Deepa Malik (F-53) and Virender Singh (F-57) [shot put/javelin, Sept. 12]; Karamjyoti Dalal (F-55) [discus, Sept. 17]; Naresh Sharma (SH-1) [shooting, Sept. 12]; Farman Basha (men’s 49kg) [powerlifting, Sept. 8]; Suyash Jadhav (S-7, SM-7) [swimming, Sept. 12], Ankur Dhama (T-11) [1500m, Sept. 12]; Pooja Rani (ST) [archery, Sept. 15].

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