For the first time African viewers will watch the opening and closing ceremonies broadcast live on 24 August and 5 September 2021. Daily 52-minute highlights packages of African centred content featuring the continent’s biggest Paralympic heroes and rising stars, will be provided in English, French and Portuguese. It is estimated that the broadcasts will reach over 250 million viewers in Africa.
TV Media Sport (TVMS) will produce this content and has also worked on behalf of the IPC to secure the Sub-Saharan broadcasters. The free-to-air broadcasting will be available in the following 49 territories: Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Central African Republic; Chad; Comoros; Congo; Democratic Republic of Congo; Djibouti; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Eswatini (Ex Swaziland); Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea Bissau; Ivory Coast; Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mauritius; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Sao Tome; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; Senegal; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe.
The coverage is part of the UK Aid funded AT2030 programme. A £40 million initiative to test ‘what works’ to improve access to assistive technology for those that need it around the world – some 900m people. AT2030’s Para Sport Against Stigma project is a four-year initiative implementing and studying Para sport as a platform for challenging disability stigma across Africa. This new innovative approach is led by Loughborough University London, IPC and University of Malawi, Chancellor College with support from the global law firm Hogan Lovells, who assisted with the negotiation of the licences and offered support to the National Paralympic Committees with the procedural requirements for athlete qualification.
Focussed research is taking place in Malawi on the Paralympic Games broadcasting coverage and local media practices and understandings of disability. This will inform future production and distribution decisions leading into the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
IPC President Andrew Parsons said: “One of the strategic goals of the IPC is to grow the global audience for the Paralympics. Increasing broadcast availability is central to that. I am thrilled that since we announced this initiative back in December last year, we have more than doubled the number of African broadcasters taking the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games from 24 to 49.
“For many reasons these are our most important Games ever. One of them is that for millions of people in Africa this will be the first time they will have seen Paralympic sport. Watching our athletes battle for medals and raise the bar in terms of elite Para sport will help normalise and challenge the stigma that too often is attached to disability.”
Emmanuel Nii Tettey Oku is a Para powerlifter competing for Ghana at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. He said: “During the Olympics I saw some of my least athletic friends post and share highlights and commentary about the Games. This was not only about the sport but also the different discussions surrounding the Games like trending topics on Simone Biles. I thought it was interesting how trending topics and visibility can cause people to talk about things that they would otherwise overlook.
“So, for me broadcasting the Games and its highlights is an opportunity to make Para sport trend enough for people to talk about it and this will help fight disability stigma here in Ghana and Africa. I think broadcasting the Games and coverage can help raise awareness of Para Sport and help Para athletes to tell our stories and showcase our achievements.”
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.”
Vicki Austin, CEO of the Global Disability Innovation Hub, which leads the AT2030 project, added: “This project shows the power of partnership and how to turn a moment of inspiration into real world impact. Although this idea began at GDI Hub, working together with Loughborough, IPC, TVMS, Hogan Lovells, University of Malawi and others, we have been able to far exceed even our own ambitions, bringing the power of the Paralympic Games to millions more people.
“We know from London 2012 that hearts and minds can shift because of the power of the sport, and in the case of access to Assistive Technology – like hearing aids, communication devices and eyeglasses – overcoming stigma is vital to ensuring every one of the 1.2 billion disabled people globally have access to the AT they need and are able to realise their UNCRPD enshrined human rights. It is with huge thanks to UK Aid, who funded this important work, proving that together, we can bring Tokyo 2020 to Africa in 2021, and create positive change for disabled people for many years to come.”
TVMS President Hédi Hamel, said: “We are delighted for the IPC to have chosen TVMS to secure the free-to-air broadcast all over the continent and to distribute valuable live and daily highlights with editorial relevance for Africa. All of our broadcast partners have responded more than positively to be associated with the Para Sport against Stigma project. The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will receive unprecedented free exposure in Africa.”