The 32nd edition of the Lisbon mini marathon, which took place this Sunday, March 12th, was marked by the impossibility of people using wheelchairs taking part in the race. Arriving at the 25 de Abril Bridge, members of the Associação de Paralisia Cerebral de Lisboa, a regular presence at the event “for over 20 years”, were approached by the race director, Mário Machado, who claimed the ban on wheelchairs in the mini marathon .
“Yesterday was just another day, they had their bibs, but the director forbade them to enter the race and ordered the police to remove them from the venue”, he tells PÚBLICO Miguel Ferreira Pinto, which this Sunday ran alone, contrary to what is usual. Miguel Ferreira Pinto usually accompanies his brother, Pedro, who travels in a wheelchair and was going to compete in the mini marathon.
According to Miguel Móia, director at Marathon Club of Portugal, the ban resulted from the security measures imposed. “Accidents have already happened on the bridge, when the wheels get stuck in the railings. Due to the unevenness in Alcântara, when descending, the chairs or carts gain speed”, he explains to PÚBLICO.
In announcementpublished this Sunday night, the Maratona Clube de Portugal resorted to the 32nd article of the competition, which prohibits the use of skates, scooters, prams and other accessories, in order to avoid “serious incidents that occurred in previous editions”.
The director of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Lisbon (APCL), Ivone Silva, argues, in an interview with PÚBLICO, that “a wheelchair for someone who cannot move around in any other way is not an accessory”, so “the article cannot be applied to these people”. In addition, recalls Ivone Silva, accidents in previous editions of the mini marathon “never involved APCL users, [já que] who accompanies the participants are experienced people”.
Miguel Ferreira Pinto criticizes Maratona Clube de Portugal for the “series of contradictions” in the published statement. “The organization justifies it with security. an event [a Meia Maratona] with 30,000 participants and the organization chooses to exclude people. They claimed an accident with a wheelchair, but in 2022 they brought a Spanish duo and used it as a tool for marketing.”
The director of Maratona Clube de Portugal, Miguel Móia, guarantees that he will meet with APCL in order to clarify what happened and find solutions for the logistics involving the 25 de Abril Bridge. Miguel Móia also claims that he has not received any contact about APCL’s registration in the race.
However, and contrary to what the Maratona Clube de Portugal communiqué indicates, the director of APCL, Ivone Silva, guarantees that she has not yet received any contact and recalls the “close and very close relationship” with the previous organization. “If the intention is not to allow these people to participate, this is a camouflaged way of doing it.”