People have said that the official TikTok account of the Paralympic Games made fun of players with disabilities
The videos, which were posted on the official social media account, were said to make fun of the special allowances made to blind swimmers, a cyclist with one leg missing, and other people with disabilities.
TikTok videos by Paralympic Games official account criticized for making fun of athletes with disabilities
The Daily Dot said that one of the videos showed a cyclist without his right leg yelling “left, left, left, left, left” as he rode. The athlete could only use his left leg, and the film seemed to make fun of that. The sound from the “Bop It” game was said to be in the background of another video that made fun of the special rules blind swimmers have to follow so they don’t hit the pool walls.
In the third video, a Paralympic ping-pong player fell out of his wheelchair while a messed-up version of the Thomas the Train Engine theme song played in the background. The account owner is also said to have written the athlete’s name and “DERDERDERDER, DER DER, DER…” in the comments part.
The videos were soon posted on Twitter, where people were quick to call out the account for how it treated players with disabilities. Many people pointed out that the account made fun of Paralympians and didn’t show how strong they were.
Paralympians speak out against paralympic games TikTok account’s mocking videos
“Bit weird that the [official] Paralympics TikTok has so many videos mocking their own athletes,” one user tweeted. “Allegedly a few Paralympians have spoken about the account and how they don’t appreciate the memes, they’d much rather be appreciated for their athleticism (and rightfully so considering how hard they work).”
Brenna Huckaby, a Paralympian, also posted on one of the videos, saying that she didn’t like how the account portrayed Paralympians. “I wish they showcased our athleticism more than the memes,” Huckaby wrote.
The debate has made people wonder if sports need to be more sensitive and aware of people with disabilities. The Paralympic Games are a way to honour the accomplishments of athletes with disabilities and show how strong, resilient, and determined they can be. But the videos that were shared on the official TikTok account seemed to contradict that message by making cheap jokes about disabled athletes.
The Paralympic Games put out a statement, “The Paralympics TikTok account is run by a Paralympian who fully understands disability. We have created a strong following through edgy and unique content that allows us to educate an audience who might be less aware of Paralympic sport and the achievements of our athletes.
“We appreciate that not everyone will like the content and sometimes we don’t get it right, but we do closely monitor posts, always converse in reactions to them, and learn from all feedback. Importantly we find that the account allows us to positively engage with younger fans about the power of Para sport as a tool for driving social inclusion.”
The trouble with the Paralympic Games’ TikTok account shows how much more sensitivity and understanding is needed when it comes to disabilities in sports. Even though the Paralympic Games have done a lot to show how amazing athletes with disabilities are, there is still a lot to do to make sure they are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.