On an individual level, people with a disability may face a number of additional barriers to participation in sport compared with people without a disability.


Some common barriers include:

  • Lack of early experiences in sport (this varies between individuals and whether a disability is from birth or acquired later in life)
  • Lack of understanding and awareness of how to include people with a disability in sport
  • Limited opportunities and programmes for participation, training and competition
  • Lack of accessible facilities, such as gymnasiums and buildings
  • Limited accessible transportation
  • Limiting psychological and sociological factors including attitudes towards disability of parents, coaches, teachers and even people with disabilities themselves
  • Limited access to information and resources


Barriers to participation in developing countries

Regarding participation of developing countries in international sports there is a widening gap between developed and developing countries. This gap has been linked to a shortage of physical education and sport for all programmes, a lack of financing for sport, few sport facilities and little equipment, a ‘muscle drain’ to developed countries, and no capacity to host major sporting events with the result that developing countries have fewer world-level sport performances than developed countries.

Limited access to sport services, sports information and the issue of doping are becoming increasingly problematic. Developing countries also face a range of social and cultural barriers that impact on sport participation including: religion, culture, language, and the lingering influence of colonialism in many parts of the world.


Breaking the barriers to participation

Listed together these barriers may appear insurmountable but it is important to recognise that not every person will experience all of these barriers. In the interest of facilitating active participation from people with a disability in developing countries, the potential impact of these barriers should be taken into consideration.

There is limited research that explores the specific barriers to participation in sport for people with a disability in developing countries. Much more evidence is needed along with financial support to ensure that people with a disability have both the opportunity and the choice to participate in sport regardless of which country they live in.