In a world that is far different than it was just five years ago, the 2021 Paralympics in Tokyo is off to a successful start. This year’s International Paralympics (August 24-September 5) has over 4,400 competitors. They’ve agreed to risk everything – including their health during the COVID-19 pandemic – to compete in events that are more equal in pay and in overall TV and media coverage than ever before.
Although the stands will be devoid of spectators, and athletes are permitted to bring fewer handlers due to COVID, Paralympic athletes will receive equal Olympic pay; $37,500 for a gold medal, $22,500 for silver, and $15,000 for a bronze. In the past, Paralympic athletes made just one-fifth of their Olympic counterparts for their medals.
The Paralympics has achieved higher levels of engagement during the pandemic with its lockdowns and endless sporting event cancellations in a way that usual sports coverage can’t. That’s because social media has magnified a positive shift in standards and perceptions that emphasizes focusing on people who are often overlooked and undervalued (such as athletes with disabilities). Pursuit of feel-good media is at an all-time high.
NBC Universal has picked up on this trend and is planning to broadcast a whopping 1,200 hours of Paralympics coverage on its TV channels and streaming platforms. For the very first time, there is also a prime-time slot – four hours of highlights spread over three shows.
Dates: August 24th – September 5th
Networks: NBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel
Streaming: NBCOlympics and the NBC Sports App