Micronesia left behind by the Paralympic movement

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sir Philip Craven at the International Paralympic Committee press conference
Image: Laura Hale.

London, England — At the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) press conference Monday, Sir Philip Craven indicated the goal of the IPC is to grow disability sport globally. At the same time, according to Paul Bird of the Oceania Paralympic Committee, the Micronesian of Oceania has been left completely behind by the Paralympic movement.

According to a member of the Oceania Paralympic Committee, the IPC recognizes fewer countries than the International Olympic Committee, with IPC rules prohibiting countries from becoming full members of the organization if their independence is not clear. This rule dates back to the organization's founding and no serious attempts have been made to change it since.

As many Micronesian countries are not viewed as independent countries, they cannot join. This includes Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The only eligibility route for elite athletes with disabilities in these countries to the Paralympic Games is through their home country, which for most of the Micronesian region is the United States; they have to compete against better-funded and better-supported competitors to earn national team selection. No disability sport competitors from Micronesia were chosen to represent the United States at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.

This problem is not unique to Micronesia, with the United States territories of Puerto Rico and United States Virgin Islands not being represented as members of the United States team in 2012.


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