British Paralympic stars "have voiced anger about the imminent disappearance of the Disability Living Allowance, a benefit they say provided them with vital support during training," according to Amelia Gentleman of the London GUARDIAN. The athletes have expressed concern that they "may not be eligible for its replacement" -- the Personal Independence Payment -- which will be available to fewer claimants when it is introduced in April with "tightened qualification criteria." Disability Living Allowance, worth between £20 ($30.4) and £131.50 ($199) a week, is "designed to help disabled people meet the extra costs of disability-related care and mobility." It is not means-tested and is "available to those in or out of work." Sophie Christiansen, who has cerebral palsy and won three Gold Medals at the Paralympic Games in dressage is "worried that under the new criteria she may find herself no longer eligible for the benefit, depending on how assessors judge her ability to get around." Wheelchair basketball Paralympian Ade Adepitan said that without DLA or equivalent support he "would not have been able to train, because of the inaccessibility of public transport." He added that if athletes found themselves no longer eligible for the payments, "only the rich would be able to contemplate competing in the Paralympics." Adepitan said, "A lot of our top Paralympians were labelled superhuman. In the sports arena they are superhuman, but in everyday life they need just as much support as every other disabled person" (GUARDIAN, 2/25).
Financial concerns are undermining public support for St. Moritz's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in tandem with nearby Davos, according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. Voters in the Swiss canton of Graubünden, where both towns are located, "will decide in a referendum on Sunday whether or not to support the bid." It would be a first Olympics for Davos, while St. Moritz, home of the Cresta run and the annual polo World Cup on snow, "would be hosting the Games for the third time after 1928 and 1948." Organizers "are having a hard time convincing the local population" to support the bid. Swiss Olympic Committee President Jörg Schild said, "We want to bring the winter Olympics back to the snow, it would be great if you could sit in the hotel and watch it snowing outside." Organizers admitted that the referendum, the first hurdle the bid must pass on its way to the IOC, was on "a knife-edge." Schild: "It will be very close."
A BOOST FOR TOURISM: According to bid organizers, the estimated investments of 4.3B Swiss francs ($4.62B) "will be repaid by the boost in tourism which will result from staging of the event." Of this, 1.5B Swiss francs ($1.6B) would be on transport on sporting infrastructure and 2.46B Swiss francs ($2.63B) would be on running the Games. The bid organizers say that "the bid is sustainable and environmentally friendly and that much of the necessary infrastructure already exists." Homewood added that, "The locals are still worried." Davos architect Juerg Grassl said, "Pressure to say yes to this has been enormous, including from public officials, but I think that pressure in recent days has shifted to the bid committee. It doesn't make sense financially, it's much too large an event, and it would burden the region with about 175,000 additional guests daily, about 10 times what we get on a booming day," he said. Karin Bravo, a 41-year-old opticians' receptionist from Davos, said that "the region was too small for such a big event." Bravo: "I find it too risky. It's much too large an event for Davos and St. Moritz alone, but would be all right if it was carried out in all of Switzerland" (REUTERS, 2/25).
Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych said Friday that the country "may put in a joint bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games with neighbors Poland and Slovakia" (R-SPORT, 2/22). ... The Japan Wrestling Federation "has launched an online petition site seeking 100,000 signatures to help the sport remain an Olympic discipline." The federation "plans to submit the signatures from the 'Save Olympic Wrestling' site to the IOC" before the board's May meeting (REUTERS, 2/25). ... Senior sprint coach Grant Stoelwinder has "offered his support to beleaguered head coach Leigh Nugent," saying the Australian national swim team's senior coaching group "bore joint responsibility for 'getting it wrong' in preparation for the London Olympics" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/26).