A Very Special Event In Athens

In three days time the biggest global sporting event of 2011 will come alive in a nation that sowed the seeds of competitive sport. Over 60,000 people are expected to attend the opening ceremony of a ten day sporting extravaganza that will feature over 7,000 athletes from virtually every nation on earth.

The eyes of the global media however will most probably be far more transfixed on events taking place just a few miles away in the heart of Athens, capital city of a country teetering on the brink of economic meltdown.

The 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games is sport's best kept secret and how I wish it wasn't so. This is a festival of sport devoid of ego, avarice or any of the other blights that infuriates the everyday spectator. This is a celebration of the human spirit in it's truest form from the commitment and dedication of the 20,000 plus volunteers from across Greece to the incredible accomplishments of the athletes playing centre stage.

Every single one of those athletes taking part has a tale to tell. Every single one is worthy of a prime time TV documentary and a double page spread in their national newspapers etc etc but precious few will actually receive this level of recognition.

This is my second involvement in the World Games as the PR manager for the Great Britain team and once again I find myself tearing my hair out at the intransigence and apathy of national journalists and broadcasters. They have a veritable goldmine of feel good stories here at a time when we need as many feel good stories as we can get.

True to say that a growing number of media outlets are recognising the newsworthiness of this incredible occasion but not nearly enough. Those that do take an interest realise very quickly exactly what these athletes, all born with learning difficulties, have overcome and exactly what sort of example they set to everyone. Some "buy" into it in a big way and are rewarded with inspirational copy and soundbites but the vast majority view it as something 'twee' and undeserving of their attention.

Maybe the issue of learning disability is still, in many quarters, a taboo subject? Maybe we'd prefer to brush this issue under the carpet in a world that's moving at an ever faster pace but given the global interconnectedness of everything it's vital that recognition is shown to those people who, in many cases, rely on others to help them make sense of this mad and illogical world which we all inhabit?

So to the media and writers that chose to ignore this event the message is simple. You're missing out. To those that do engage and take an interest I say welcome to the party. It'll be the best one you ever attend!


Administrator
Written on Wednesday, 22 June 2011 09:10 by Administrator

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