“It belongs to everyone… It’s one of the most striking and important symbols…It’s an expression of universality and brotherhood of the world.”
- Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, August 2008
The Paralympic Games coincide with the Olympic Games and take place in the same venues, in the same city, with many of the same sports. Why is it then that the Paralympic Games has a different flag and different symbols? The Olympic flag, logo, motto and anthem represent and reflect the same values and principles for all humanity, including the Paralympic Games and athletes with disabilities.
To some in the Paralympic community, perhaps there is pride in being different and having a separate brand and symbols from the Olympic Games. However, is separate ever really equal? For the men’s and women’s World Cup, FIFA utilizes a two events, one movement approach, which can also be applied for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Also, reflecting on what the Olympic values stand for as well as the principles of Olympism, it does not seem right to have two separate brands for the same movement. Do female athletes in the Olympic Games have distinct symbols and logos from men in the Olympic Games? Do lightweight boxers and heavyweight boxers in the Olympic Games have different symbols? Of course, they do not.
Paralympic athletes are world class athletes who represent their countries at the highest level of competition, just the same as the Olympic athletes. It would be significant for the world of sport and the spirit of humanity to have the two symbolically merge together. The Olympic and Paralympic Games are all about celebrating cultures and competing together. It does not seem right to have two Games with separate sets of symbols.
In order to further the true values of Olympism, there is an opportunity for the Olympic rings and symbols to apply to both the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. A unifying logo and motto would further connect both Games into one movement, further reinforcing the unifying power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
co-authored by Eli Wolff, Mark Pomerleau and Mary Hums