Concerns have been raised about attitudes towards the disabled in the volunteers training handbook for Pyeongchang 2018 ©Pyeongchang 2018

Organisers for the Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang have apologised and vowed to revise a "badly worded" section of their volunteers handbook which outlines recommended ways to treat disabled people attending the Games.

The manual, currently being circulated to all volunteers as part of their basic training before working at both Games, gives example scenarios of things that should and should not be said to disabled people in what can be considered as a patronising and belittling manner. 

It begins with advised "basic attitudes" which initially focuses on how people should not use disabled people to promote themselves.

"The disabled is not the background for the promotion of [a] politician, patron or company," readers are told.

Volunteers are then reminded to refer to intellectually disabled people by their correct age, adding in brackets: "when an old intellectually-disabled is a child?".

Further passages urge against treating the disabled as a "piteous one" before adding that "a female disabled is also a female human being". 

"Even if it should be helped, it should not be allowed that a male supporter helps a female disabled take a bath..." another passage states.

"...Assuming that the disabled cannot know, hear, think or desire, do not carelessly say or do something near the disabled without permission.

"..It should not be guessed that the disabled has no thought and cannot decide. 

"...It should be always careful that my doubt can be felt by the disabled in advance to be estranged, and it is most necessary that the disabled should be treated not by fraud, but by sincerity."

A section of the volunteers handbook with recommended attitudes towards  disabled people ©Pyeongchang 2018
A section of the volunteers handbook with recommended attitudes towards disabled people ©Pyeongchang 2018

Another section, referring to the "mentally disabled", urges against "prejudice" such as the presumption that the "mentally disabled person is dangerous to cause an accident" or that they are suffering from an inherited condition.

Although well-intentioned, the guidebook hardly conforms to the ethos by which Paralympians are treated as elite athletes with no focus on their disabilities. 

A concluding section of the chapter on dealing with the disabled does highlight how "disability is an artificial barrier created by the society and the environment," adding "it is recognised that correcting the misunderstanding of the society and the environment is up to us".

One individual hoping to volunteer at the Games expressed his shock at the "inappropriate" wording and described it as something they had "never encountered" before when volunteering at many other major sporting events.

"We have yet to see a copy of the guide but have since requested one from [Pyeongchang 2018]," International Paralympic Committee communications director Craig Spence told insidethegames.

"Clearly some of the language and terminology that appears to have been used does seem inappropriate and we will be providing feedback to [Pyeongchang 2018] on this matter."

A section of the guide recommending how to treat the people with mental health-issues ©Pyeongchang 2018
A section of the guide recommending how to treat the people with mental health-issues ©Pyeongchang 2018

A Pyeongchang 2018 spokesperson told insidethegames that they are "reworking and revising" the handbook.

"Pyeongchang 2018 aims to be fully inclusive," they said.

"We want to ensure our volunteers are well educated and trained to deal with all our client groups throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, so we can provide everyone with the best experience possible.

"Disabilities are an important area to be addressed during the volunteer training so that they are knowledgeable and well prepared to welcome everyone and assist them as required. 

"The section on this in the handbook was badly worded and does not reflect our beliefs at Pyeongchang 2018. 

"We deeply apologise for any offense this may have caused. 

"The section is now being reworked and revised to include all the relevant information that is written and explained correctly."

The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang are due to take place from February 9 to 25 with the Paralympics to following from March 8 to 18.

The volunteers handbook can be read in full here.