Loughborough University to research African coverage of Tokyo Paralympic Games

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (24 August – 5 September) will have the most extensive African-focussed broadcast coverage on public TV channels in history.

For the first time TV audiences will watch live coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies and daily highlights packages.  Reach is expected to exceed 150 million viewers.  

Loughborough University researchers are collaborating with the International Paralympic Committee and the University of Malawi to study broadcast practices and local communication practices as part of Para Sport Against Stigma, a 4-year innovative project examining Para sport as a platform to challenge disability stigma in Sub Saharan Africa.

The London 2012 Paralympic Games left a positive societal legacy for disabled people in the United Kingdom (UK). Para Sport Against Stigma was created to build on this legacy, it is applying the lessons learnt to deliver the benefits and research the impact of broadcasting the Paralympic Games and associated education programmes on dispelling stigma towards people with disabilities in African societies.

Para Sport Against Stigma will implement and study a programme of broadcast, community engagement and Para sport activities across Malawi, Ghana and Zambia to test 'what works' to:

  • Increase participation in sport
  • Reduce stigma and discrimination
  • Increasing access to life-changing assistive technologies

Professor Jo Tacchi is Loughborough University’s Lead Investigator on this project. She said:

"We are privileged to play such a critical role researching the role of the Paralympic broadcasting in Africa in partnership with the University of Malawi.  In the next weeks, we’ll be examining broadcast production, audience perceptions and community engagement around the broadcasts in Malawian communities with the aim of informing planning for Paris 2024.   The project is part of Loughborough University’s commitment to developing Para sport and promoting inclusion for people with disabilities in the UK and around the world."

Professor Mufunanji Magalasi is University of Malawi’s lead investigator on the project. He said:

"The University of Malawi, Chancellor College sees its participation in the Para Sport Against Stigma project as an opportunity for fulfilling its mandate of contributing to National Development through research. The Para Sport Against Stigma project deals directly with one of the main national agenda issues on equality for all Malawians. Traditionally as a country we are brought up with ideas of looking down on people with disabilities, sometimes in a well-meaning protective way and at other times in a denigrating way. Many capable people with disabilities are denied access to opportunities in the different sectors because of their physical or mental being.

Para Sport Against Stigma (PSAS)  project brings us into the issue as a player to contribute in our own small way to show the Malawian society that being disabled does not mean inability. Additionally, the collaboration with other international partners helps in growing our international profile as researchers capable of doing excellent international research work that contributes to resolving of social problems in society."

Para Sport against Stigma is a collaboration between partners brought together by Global Disability Innovation Hub, Loughborough University London, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), University of Malawi, and the global law firm Hogan Lovells.

It is part of the world's largest Assistive Technology programme, AT2030, a £20 million initiative led by Global Disability Innovation Hub, to increase the availability of assistive technology by testing “what works,” and reach 15 million people.

Find out more about the Para Sport Against Stigma research in Malawi here.

Learn more about the Para Sport Against Stigma project here.

Image credit: James Varghese IPC.