Acute indifference towards para athletes at annual sports event in Tiruchi

Even as India celebrates its blind cricket team's performance at the Blind World Cup, the larger lack of awareness and even indifference towards the disabled was strongly in evidence at an annual sports meet for people with disabilities held at Anna Stadium in Tiruchirapalli this week.

Officials failed to provide even basic facilities like ramps and railings, and with no arrangements in place, it was difficult for participants to reach the sporting arena. Even the highest administrative officer in the district, the Collector, who launched the event was unaware of the lack of facilities.

Athletes complained that in the absence of ramps, crutches and railings they had to get down from their wheelchairs and literally crawl to the arena to display their talents. There were wheelchairs available but no one could use them as there were no ramps in the stadium.

Despite the lack of facilities, many of them did well at the events. There was no support staff present to help athletes with wheelchairs either. Yet again, the laws listed under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 to equip safety provisions in public places remains only on paper.

Participants from 25 special schools took part in the event. It was made up of events for people with physical disabilities, the blind and the deaf. Participants displayed their skills in sprints, shuttle badminton, table tennis, adapted volleyball, throwball and kabaddi.

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