Tatyana McFadden, a star US Paralympian, took to social media to highlight the differences for family members of Paralympians compared to Olympians during this summer's Olympics in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
"This isn't something new that Paralympic athletes have to deal with," McFadden wrote. "We are looking for EQUITY when it comes to the Paralympics in 2021 and beyond."
The Tokyo Games will not allow fans within the metropolitan area and outright banned foreign spectators due to concerns over the delta variant of COVID-19. This includes friends and family members of the competing athletes.
Because of this, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, NBCUniversal and sponsors are sending family and friends of Olympians to an NBC resort in Orlando so that they can watch and cheer on their friends and family competing in Tokyo.
USOPC chief strategy and development officer Katie Bynum said Reese’s and Toyota are sponsoring the event, per Business Hala.
Friends and family of Paralympians, however, will be sent to Colorado Springs, Colorado to cheer on their loved ones at the Paralympics from Aug. 26-29. The Paralympics run from Aug. 24-Sept. 5 and if interest in the Paralympics exceeds expectations, organizers will expand it to include another wave, a USOPC spokeswoman said, per The Wall Street Journal.
For both trips, athletes can send a total of two people to their respective hotels. All flights will be paid for but there are some clear differences in experience.
Guests of Olympians will have four nights in Orlando and these guests can choose any four nights between July 23 and Aug. 8. There are four waves of four-day spans to choose from while guests of Paralympians get the same three-day span.
Besides the obvious amenity differences of an Orlando resort vs. a Colorado Springs hotel, those in Orlando will also have parking passes and tickets paid for by Universal Studios and its theme parks. Guests in Colorado will have access to the Olympic and Paralympic Museum.
“Certainly if someone wants to go to Universal, we can accommodate that at a different time,” Bynum said.
Bynum also said that the reason they are not holding all family and friends in one location is concerns over COVID-19.
"With the pandemic, the postponement, we are dealing with daily and weekly changing circumstances," Bynum said. "So logically, that’s what we can do, and we’re really excited to be able to offer two of the best destinations and programs.”
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