Staged in the shadow of the Olympics, the Paralympics do not get the public attention they deserve. Riding on a high of the Hong Kong team’s best Olympic performance in Tokyo, however, the Games for the physically disabled and mentally challenged are set to be the most anticipated yet for the local community. But there is more to the spectacle than just medal hauls. As we watch athletes overcome their impairments and shine on the world stage, let’s not forget many disabled are still held back by inequality and discrimination. Some 4,500 athletes are competing in 540 events in 22 sports from today until September 5. The Hong Kong delegation comprises 24 athletes, half of whom are making their debut, and they will compete in archery, athletics, badminton, boccia, equestrian, swimming, table tennis and wheelchair fencing. The mainland is sending its smallest contingent since 2004, with some 251 athletes taking part. The Paralympics are no less challenging than the Olympic Games. The coronavirus crisis in Japan continues to worsen, with daily cases hitting 25,000 late last week. Concerns have been raised that the health risks from infection for the disabled will be more serious. Traditionally, the Paralympics have less strong an appeal, because of their smaller scale and the nature of some parasports. That is why fewer broadcasters are showing live events than at the Olympics. But the preferential treatment goes beyond coverage and public attention. From government support and training to financial reward, inequality prevails. For instance, even though the prize for a solo gold disabled medallist under the Henderson Land Commendation Scheme for Elite Athletes has been doubled to HK$800,000 (US$102,660), it is only one-sixth of the HK$5 million given to fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long, who triumphed at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Some countries are giving equal payouts for medal performance, though they are the minority. Whether the team will make history like its Olympics counterparts remains to be seen. Hong Kong athletes have been much more successful at the Paralympics, winning 40 gold, 37 silver and 49 bronze medals since the debut of the Games in 1972. Who are the Hong Kong athletes to watch at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics? But the city’s medal count has been steadily decreasing since the all-time high of 11 golds, seven silvers and one bronze at Athens in 2004. The Paralympics are not only about giving competitors a stage on which to shine, but also making disability visible and acceptable. They remind us what disabled people are capable of and how they can contribute to society just like anyone else when given a chance. Notwithstanding the efforts and improvements over the years, equality for the disabled still has a long way to go. Giving them due respect and support will help make a difference.