London MEP takes Paralympic spirit to Brussels
Following the success of the 2012 Paralympics, Member of the European Parliament for London Marina Yannakoudakis organised an event in the European Parliament to showcase the achievements of the London games and to have a wider discussion about disability sport, disabled rights and changing perceptions of disability.
The London Paralympics were the biggest and best Paralympics ever, with nearly two and a half million tickets already sold – more than any previous Paralympics – and more athletes from more countries than ever before, including a record number of female athletes.
Co-organised with Czech MEP Milan Cabrnoch, the event brought together gold medal-winning Paralympians from the UK and Czech Republic.
The gold medallists were joined by Richard Barnes, who as Deputy Mayor of London oversaw a number of improvements in accessibility in the capital, especially on public transport. Mr. Barnes spoke about the legacy of the London Paralympics.
Other speakers included Czech MP Lenka Kohoutová who is Chair of Czech Parliament’s sub-committee on persons with disability and Ji?í Ponikelský of Czech TV. Ponikelský discussed Czech TV’s significant coverage of the Paralympics and the role of the media in disability sport.
Marina said: “This event was not just about honouring the athletes and celebrating with success of the London Paralympics. It was also about looking beyond this summer and how we can use the games to build on what has been accomplished and look at what remains to be achieved.
The United Kingdom has always been a trailblazer for promoting rights for the disabled. In 1948 we pioneered sport for disabled people at the Stoke Mandeville Games, the forerunner of the first Paralympics. And in 1970 we introduced the first legislation for disabled rights anywhere in the world.
We heard contributions from those involved in the organisation of the 2012 games, Paralympians, the media, and legislators. They all play a role in the journey towards equality, and towards promoting the rights of disabled people.”