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Grange asked to explain why paralympians barred from athletes' assistance programme

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Paralympic Association (JPA) says it has not received advice from Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange regarding her decision to exclude para athletes from the athletes' assistance programme.

Grange indicated that the paralympians had not yet begun training when the decision to postpone the Tokyo Games was taken, and were therefore not eligible to receive payment under the programme.

“The JPA simply wishes to determine the basis on which the honourable minister concluded that para athletes did not begin training in late March 2020 for the Paralympic Games which were scheduled to begin in August 2020,” a statement today said.

It listed the following facts:
1. Our athletes commenced background training for the Paralympic Games in December 2019 in keeping with standard and globally accepted practices respecting athletes' preparation and conditioning for games in the ensuing year.

2. It has never been the practice of the JPA to have our athletes commence training for the Paralympic Games (or any championship or tournament) four or five months before the staging of the games which is an inference to be drawn from the statement attributed to the honourable minister.

3. Consequently, at no time did the JPA advise anyone in March of this year, or at any other time, that our athletes had not begun training for the Paralympic Games which were originally scheduled for August, 2020.

4. On the contrary, our athletes, since December 2019, had been pursuing their respective training programmes and were in high gear in March 2020 and some had even participated overseas in qualifying regional and international tournaments in their bid to qualify for the Paralympic Games.

5. Since the announcement of the postponement of the Paralympic Games, our athletes have continued training, albeit on a limited scale.

“The JPA continues to await a response as it strives to discourage inferences being drawn by members of the public as to discrimination against the disabled community in sport,” the statement added.

“The JPA maintains that the ministry's statement that it assisted para athletes to access the COVID-19 Care Programme, which is opened to the public, is an entirely different matter. The JPA simply wishes answers respecting the declared ineligibility of its para athletes under the specifically designed athletes' assistance programme on the basis that in late March 2020 they had not begun training for the Paralympic Games in August 2020. This is, in the JPA's view, the material and only issue.”