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No place for people with disabilities on a podium full of clergymen & sports officials

A picture from the inauguration of a Sports Center on Crete went viral for a good reason and stirred the Greek society that expressed anger and outrage over the exclusion of a person with disabilities from a blessing ceremony.stirred the Greek society. The Sports Minister who awas present at the ceremony had to admits “it was a mistake.

The picture shows a podium with several priests on it who perform a blessing for the sports center. A group of local sports officials as well as the Sport Minister Lefteris Avgenakis follow the procedure with deep devotion.

In front of the podium, on the ground is a man on a wheelchair. The man is the president of the Greek Paralympics Committee, Giorgos Kapellakis, a winner of several medals including a Gold.

It is not clear whether also other athletes are excluded from a special place on the provisional podium which is apparently only for the elected and non-elected blessed ones: officials & ministers and clergymen.

All males, of course.

It turned out afterwards that the organizers had invited the GPC president but they did not bother to arrange a ramp so that Kapellakis could also access with his wheelchair the ‘blessed podium.

Minister Avgenakis who saw his photo opportunity overshadowed, posted on his social media account on Thursday that “it was a mistake I’m committing myself that it will not happen again.” The Minister also quoted Kapellakis who praised the minister for showing respect to athletes with disabilities.

However, Greeks on Tiwtter and other social media did not share this point of view.


“When you invite a paralympic winner, but you don’t feel it.”

“This is not just an inauguration photo, it is a depiction of the country. Only priests and officials find space on the podium set up for the opening ceremony of the National Center for Coastal Sports. The athlete is on the ground. The Paralympian did not fit in their platform, in their frame, in their lights. Maybe if he was better known to the general public, with more followers on Instagram he would fit. Until then, it will only fit in the posts and messages every December 3rd for the International Day of People with Disabilities.
Shame.”

“But he was blessed with the holy water,” noted ironically another Greek.

Another user proposed they all had to be down, on the ground, or carry the wheelchair up on the podium.


“Today is not December 3, it’s not “International Day of People with Disabilities. We don’t zealously post ‘all different, all equal’,” posted the secretary of PASOK-KINAL.


“Picture of shame. Mr. Avgenakis obviously has no worries about accessibility issues. It could at least not offend our fellow citizen in this violent way. An institutional obligation of all of us is zero tolerance for exclusionary practices,” posted SYRIZA spokesman.

Fact is: hadn’t it be for outrage on the picture going viral on Greek internet, the Sports Minister would not have even noticed that something was wrong.

And he did not notice, indeed, during the ceremony in Heraklio, Crete on Wendesday.

A political career in Greece is built on photo opportunities and these cannot be overshadowed by a missing ramp or something, right?

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6 comments

  1. Sadly for us with disabilities ie wheelchair, scooter, electric chairs Greece has Hardly any place for us, ie Crete very minute amount of rideable walk ways without trees or motor bikes on. parking places occupied by cars without badges, usable ramps without large holes. No toilets on ground floors, ( what we do not need to pee) most Doctors /Dentist, medical needs clinics, tax offices ect., have multiple steps, So we do not get our needs met. its very hard to travel on a sidewalk with trees or holes or broken stones, im in and out of my chair when trying to travel on a sidewalk to shop. I can stand only if i have something to hold on too. So bad luck for us who would love to get out some times.

  2. That’s ridiculous and Greece should be ashamed of itself. But why is there a need to bless a sports centre in the first place?! It’s not a religious site, is it? (yes I know that priests often appear at such events – I have lived in Greece for 14 years – but I still find it a strange tradition)

    • A priest has to earn a living. I think they do get paid for such events? I’m not sure why they need 5?

  3. Poor chap, looks to me women were also excluded from the podium.

  4. I would seriously think about what put him in the wheel chair in the first place , motorcycle riding without helmets, using Mobil phones whilst driving , unsafe construction practices,the list is endless and must be addressed by legislation, complaining about accessibility is ironic woke comedy.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      get info first then comment. The broke his spine while he was doing his military service