Additionally vulnerable athletes are those that do not always have access to the same choices due to a disability or impairment; a situation that results in an increased risk of experiencing harm or abuse.

Various international studies have demonstrated that disabled children are between three to four times more likely to be abused while participating in sport than other children. Harm, that results not only from sexual abuse, but also:

  • Physical and verbal abuse
  • Joking and unchecked bullying from teammates
  • Coaches and clubs overly fixated on integration or the disability

A number of studies have shown that disabled athletes are not only additionally vulnerable, but also experience more harm and abuse. The result is that special measures need to be implemented to effectively safeguard this group.


It is important for additionally vulnerable people that clubs and organisations provide opportunities to participate in sport; considerations include: 

  • Access to the venue
  • Modification of rules for specific competitions
  • Appropriate sports equipment

Some fantastic examples include referees who use a flag in addition to the traditional whistle to include deaf athletes in football and the incorporation of sitting volleyball competitions into sporting schedules.

Hear from some additionally vulnerable athletes on what participating in sport has meant for them and how they overcame difficulties.

Image by / Christoph Schwager