Tokyo 2020 Paralympics
Why should Para-athletes be called Paralympians and not Olympians?
The term itself is not tough to comprehend and also has some interesting reasons behind its formation
The basic definition of a Paralympian is someone who competes at the sporting event named the Paralympics held every 4 years. The term is synonymous with 'Olympian' that is used to define anyone who competes in the Olympics.
However, the difference is that Paralympians have certain physical differences that bar them from competing in the Olympics. Hence they are otherwise known as para sportspersons and subsequently Paralympians when they compete at the Paralympics.
As per the official IPC website and catalogue on terminologies for para sportspersons, the Preferred term is Para Athlete. If however a person does compete in the Paralympics, then they become a Paralympian.
Another very interesting thing to note is that no one can be called an Ex Paralympian. If a person competes in the Paralympics once, then they will always be called a Paralympian. Or as the catalogue puts it, they are called a 'Paralympian for life'. Para is what differentiates athletes with disabilities who are competing in the Paralympics and gives them an identity of their own.
This has also been of use at times when athletes such as Oscar Pistorious have competed at the Olympics and have been recognised as healthy competitors despite their physical disabilities.
They have given recognition to the para athlete community who have otherwise been sidelined a majority of the time. Hence it is often seen that Paralympians who have competed alongside Olympians help put aside notions of physical differences barring a person from achieving their sport talent.