Disability-Specific Sporting Competitions and the UN CRPD: Segregation as Inclusion?

Frea De Keyzer, Tim Opgenhaffen, Rinke Beekman

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Since the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was created, segregation of persons with disabilities is no longer allowed. Separate schools, sheltered workshops, and isolated social care homes impede inclusion and must be banned. Sport is a remarkable exception to this general principle. The CRPD explicitly states that persons with disabilities should have the opportunity to organize, develop, and participate in disability-specific sporting activities. This contribution—focusing on the Paralympics and Special Olympics—examines why the CRPD allows and encourages disability-specific sporting competitions, despite (or perhaps due to) its radical choice for inclusion. Beyond that, this contribution asks the obvious follow-up question: if disability-specific competitions are allowed, how can the criteria for participation be determined in a manner consistent with the CRPD? The CRPD opposes a medical approach to disability, yet that approach is often used in selection criteria. Although this contribution primarily focuses on sports, the impact is wider: it raises questions on inclusion and how to assess disability.
Original languageEnglish
Article number50
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2023

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