LONDON (Reuters) - The British government announced on Friday that the Paralympic Games have been added to the ‘crown jewels’ list of sports events that must be screened live on free-to-air television.
The summer and winter events will be given the same status as the Olympics and other marquee events including the men’s soccer World Cup tournament, the FA Cup final, Grand National horse race and Wimbledon tennis championships.
The Paralympics, which were founded at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1948, have enjoyed record levels of media coverage and interest in recent years.
Channel 4 dedicated 500 hours of broadcast time across its platforms to the Paralympics during the London 2012 Games, before increasing it to 700 hours for Rio 2016.
The government said the Paralympics marks a major step forward in improving the inclusivity of listed events ahead of the Tokyo Games later this year.
“The Paralympic Games is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, as the country comes together to support our world-class Paralympic athletes,” Sports Minister Nigel Adams said in a statement.
“So it is only right that the event is available on free-to-air television for all to enjoy.
“Adding the Games to the crown-jewels list of major sporting events guarantees it the platform it deserves every four years that will help inspire the sporting stars of the future.”
It is the first time a change has been made to listed events in more than 20 years.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport is also looking to add soccer’s Women’s World Cup and Women’s FA Cup to the list and a decision will be made in due course.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris