London 2012: How the world saw the Paralympics


As the final day of the Paralympic Games unfolded across London, media commentators from around the world have reflected on its achievements.

The host nation's enthusiasm for the event also caught the media's eye. As one German newspaper put it: "The British can not only organise, they can celebrate."

China's Xinhua news agency said: "London has pushed the Paralympics to a new height after taking over the legacy of the Beijing Paralympics."

It added that a better understanding of disability had become "one of the core parts of the 'Paralympic story'. It said it was struck by the spirit of "increasingly fierce competition at the Paralympics".

Bahrain's Gulf daily went as far as to say that the abiding legacy of London 2012 may not be the victories of the likes of Mo Farah or Bradley Wiggins, but the "fundamental change in the way much of the world looks at disability".

It said the Paralympics "have swiftly taught us to look beyond disability towards achievement".

Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper said the games "have given humanity an opportunity to push the limits of human capacity to adapt as evident in the stunning performances of disabled athletes".

Germany's Zeit daily said: "The British can not only organise, they can celebrate. With seemingly boundless enthusiasm they cheered in the packed stadiums every last runner to finish the Paralympics."

Australia's Canberra Times said: "The sometimes patronising, frequently gushing praise of the inspiring Paralympians is a timely reminder to consider the many people with disabilities who face daily challenges greater than those on the world's sporting stage...

"Those who admire, respect and are inspired by the magnificent feats of athletes with a disability might reflect on folk who show as much courage, determination and perseverance in their daily personal and professional lives".

Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza lauded athletes' desire to overcome obstacles for the sake of sporting success rather than material wealth, describing the event as "a miracle of authenticity".

During the games, Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda said "Russians are not used to encountering disabled people in the street... Yet for the first time, they discovered a previously unknown sporting world and its courageous fighters". Moscow famously refused to stage the Paralympic games in 1980.

Writing for the Australian newspaper, disabled journalist Melanie Reid marvelled at the unique sights of Paralympic events: "80,000 people falling silent so that a blind long-jumper can sprint into her darkness towards the sound of someone clapping.

"The sight of a young woman, her body frantic with cerebral palsy, achieving serenity on the back of a horse. The potency of men with no legs turned into gods by the menace of their running blades."

She concluded that the games had somehow made disability "cool".

Many newspapers, including Spain's El Pais and Austria's Der Standard, celebrated the unique spectacle of the Games with online photo galleries.

The man charged with delivering the 2016 games in Rio, Leonard Gryner, was quoted in a number of Brazilian newspapers noting the lessons of London 2012. He said "the priority given to the experience of the public, offering the best possible conditions, and structure and comfort they gave to athletes" had ensured that "everyone left happy".

The O Globo newspaper carried an article on the partially constructued Maracana stadium, which will be the centrepiece of the Rio games. The paper said the stadium would set "new standards of comfort and visibility" and promised a "greater interaction between the public and their heroes" in 2016.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here

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