NEWS

The Tea Behind The Paralympic’s TikTok Account

Everything you need to know about the controversial account.
The paralympics.Getty

The official Paralympics TikTok account is facing controversy for its depiction of elite disabled athletes.

With 3.5 million followers, the account’s divisive content strategy has it growing by the dayin both fans and critics.

Below, we explain everything you need to know about the controversy around the Paralympics TikTok account.

What Is The Controversy Around The Paralympics TikTok Account?

The Paralympics TikTok account provides an important form of coverage for the Paralympic games and its global community of athletes. However, the account has been criticised for leaning on humour and internet meme style videos to connect with viewers on the platform.

This is largely seen in the account’s use of trending sounds, which are played in the background of videos showcasing athlete’s performances.

One video has elite skier Martin France skiing to the tune of Cha Cha Slide while a video of volleyballers has The Real Slim Shady playing in the background.

When used in this way, the sounds, which are light, fun and silly, seem to minimise the athlete’s achievements and even make fun of them.

The content has certainly surprised viewers, who don’t expect this type of meme-focused content from such an official body.

“I can’t with this admin,” one user commented, while others asked “who is running this account?”

While some viewers have expressed their enjoyment of the account, with one user commenting “I’ve never seen a greater Marketing team than the Paralympics social media” and others saying that the videos are actually making them want to watch the Paralympics, many have expressed their unease with the content.

“Bit weird that the offical [sic] paralympics tiktok has so many videos mocking their own athletes,” wrote a Twitter user called Yasmin.

While disability rights advocate Imani Barbarin said that the Paralympics videos “have no voice and they have no perspective.”

“Not only that, but if you use certain audios with disabled people, the context changes almost entirely … and that’s the entire page,” she explained on Twitter.

People have also pointed out the differences between the official Paralympics account and the Olympics account.

Where the Olympics account adopts a serious tone to showcase athlete’s peak performances and explore the histories of different sports, the Paralympics account shows their athletes making mistakes and places a focus on making viewers laugh.

Many members of the disabled community have expressed that the content doesn’t really empower athletes or promote respect for them.

The organisation addressed the criticism last year on NPR by explaining that the account is run by a “Paralympian who fully understands disability.”

Unfortunately, many people did not buy this explanation, with many pointing out that disability isn’t something that can be “fully” understood as everyone’s experience with disability is different. For this reason, one person also shouldn’t get to decide what is offence and what is not—particularly not on such a prestigious and important platform.

There is of course, a responsibility that comes with being the representation for a global community of athletes—and that’s not something to take lightly.

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