A photo from the opening of a sports center in Crete stirred up the Greek community, expressing anger and outrage at the exclusion of a person with a disability from the blessing ceremony.
The Minister of Sports, who was present at the ceremony, was forced to admit that “it was a mistake.” The picture shows a podium where several priests perform the blessing of the sports center. A group of local sports officials, as well as Sports Minister Lefteris Avgenakis, are closely following the procedure.
A man in a wheelchair stands on the ground in front of the podium. This is the President of the Hellenic Paralympic Committee Giorgos Kapelakis, winner of several medals, including gold. They simply forgot about him, in fact the main “culprit” of the event.
It is not clear if there were other athletes with disabilities on the temporary podium, which is apparently intended only for the chosen and unelected blessed: officials, ministers and clergy. Probably not…
It was later revealed that the organizers had invited the president of the Hellenic Paralympic Committee, but had not bothered to arrange a ramp so that Kapelakis could also climb in a wheelchair to the “blessed podium”.
Minister Avgenakis, who saw that his photo opportunity had been overshadowed, wrote on his social media account on Thursday: “I made a mistake, this will not happen again.” The Minister also quoted Kapelakis, who praised the Minister for respecting athletes with disabilities. However, the Greeks on Tiwtter and other social networks did not share this view.
Όταν καλείς τον παραολυμπιονίκη, αλλά δεν το νιώθεις. pic.twitter.com/13xPdsVbYr
— ConstantinosAlexacos (@constantnos) June 16, 2022
“When they call you a Paralympian, but you don’t feel it.”
Αυτή δεν είναι απλώς μια φωτογραφία εγκαινίων, είναι η απεικόνιση της χώρας. Στην ε Didέδρα που στήθηκε για την τελετή εγκαινίων του εθνικού κέντρου παράκτιων αθλημάτων βώρο μόνο πάδες και και χαιαιαιαι up -up. Ο αθλητής είναι από κάτω. Ο παραολυμπιονίκης δεν χωρούσε στην 1/2 pic.twitter.com/SxyifJoNdg
— Κωνσταντίνος Μαρκέτος (@marketosk) June 15, 2022
This is not just a photo of the opening, this is an image of the country. Only priests and bureaucrats find a place on the podium set up for the opening ceremony of the National Coastal Sports Center. Athlete below. The Paralympian did not fit into the number of guests.
Maybe if he was more known to the general public, with more followers on Instagram, he would fit in. Until then, it will only be placed in messages every December 3, on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Τον ράντισε με αγιασμό όμως. pic.twitter.com/mhrRpmm4zz
— Ιερώνυμος boss (@JeronymoBoss2) June 15, 2022
“But he was blessed with holy water,” another Greek remarked ironically.
Another user suggested that they all lie down on the ground or take the wheelchair up to the podium.
Σήμερα δεν είναι 3 Δεκεμβρίου, δεν είναι “Παγκόσμια Ημέρα Ατόμων με Αναπηρία”. Δεν ποστάρουμε με θέρμη “όλοι διαφορετικοί, όλοι ίσοι”. Γιατί αυτό αποδεικνύεται στην πράξη. Και για την πράξη έχουμε πολύ δρόμο ακόμα. pic.twitter.com/TPUlCyWDI3
— Μανώλης Χριστοδουλάκης (@Manolis_Chr) June 16, 2022
“Today is not December 3, not “International Day of People with Disabilities. We do not post “all different, all equal”,” wrote the secretary of PASOK-KINAL.
Εικόνα ντροπής. Οκ. Αυγενάκης προφανώς δεν έχει κανένα άγχος για τα ζητήματα προσβασιμότητας. Θα μπορούσε τουλάχιστον να μην προσβάλει με αυτό τον βίαιο τρόπο έναν συμπολίτη μας. Θεσμική υποχρέωση όλων μας η μηδενική ανοχή σε πρακτικές αποκλεισμού. pic.twitter.com/tOKG36mdyU
— Νάσος Ηλιόπουλος (@n_iliopoulos) June 15, 2022
“A picture of shame. Mr. Avgenakis is apparently not worried about accessibility issues. At least it might not offend our fellow citizens in such a violent way. It is an institutional obligation for all of us to have zero tolerance for prohibitive practices.” said a spokesman for SYRIZA.
The fact is, were it not for the outrage over the fact that the photo went viral on the Greek internet, the Minister of Sports would not even have noticed that something was wrong.
A political career in Greece is built on the opportunity to be photographed, and that can’t be overshadowed by the lack of a ramp or anything else, right?