Mark Steel: They can't be disabled – they can swim

Having Atos sponsor the Paralympics is like having a gay Olympics and letting the Pope sponsor them

Share
Related Topics

There's a company called Atos, that you may have heard of, and the achievement it's best known for is to be despised by thousands of the disabled. Graffiti such as "Atos kills" is common on some housing estates, which must be why Atos is one of the main sponsors of the Paralympics. It makes sense, in the way that if you had a gay Olympics, you'd get it sponsored by the Pope, or you'd get an Olympics for people who idolise tall buildings automatically sponsored by al-Qa'ida.

The reason Atos is unpopular is that it receives £100m a year from the Government for assessing the claims of the disabled. The method Atos chooses is to interview each claimant, ignoring old-fashioned nonsense like medical records and asking them a series of questions such as "Do you look after your own pets?" You get points for each answer and your final score determines whether you keep your disability benefit. Because, as the old saying goes, if you can pat a hamster you can do an all night shift as a security guard.

Of the thousands who have appealed against Atos decisions, 40 per cent have been successful. This is admirable, seeing as you'd get half of them right if you decided each claim by asking them to guess which hand you were holding a peanut in. So maybe Atos should be in charge of deciding who has won each event at the Paralympics. Instead of using unreliable data such as who came first, the company can interview each athlete, declaring one the winner because, although they came seventh, they gave correct answers to the questions "Who was your favourite Doctor Who?" and "Have you ever been to Runcorn?" And commentators will have to shout, "GREAT run from the Kenyan, but answered 'Andy Pandy' when asked to name a 1980s kids' TV show so not likely to make the final".

Atos could also conduct the post-race interviews. Rather than the jaded old format of congratulating the winner, we can have an enlightening conversation led by an Atos clerk that goes, "Can you swim?" "Of course I can, I've just won the blind swimming race." "Well, if you can swim, you can't be blind, you cheat. Now apply for this job as a crane driver."

Maybe Atos will get itself in a complete philosophical tangle during the games, applauding each event, then thinking, "Hang on, they can't be disabled, they've just been playing basketball", until the entire Paralympic village is disqualified, unless one country enters a couple of dead athletes, giving them a 40 per cent chance of being accepted into the table tennis.

Protests against Atos by the disabled have been planned throughout the games, so this shows that sponsorship pays off. Before the games, few people had heard of Atos, but by the end millions will know them as the bastards who make a fortune out of ruining the lives of the disabled. They'll have brand recognition – proof that advertising works.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education require a ...

SEN Teacher - Hull

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting for spe...

Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking EY...

Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: NEWLY QUALIFIED TEACHER WE CAN HELP ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Underground, Overground, over the Irish Sea and clever pigs

John Rentoul
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor