Leveraging accessible tourism development through mega-events, and the disability-attitude gap

Michael Duignan, Ian Brittain, Marcus Hansen, Alan Fyall, Simon Gerard, Stephen Page

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Able-bodied, and increasingly people with disabilities, represent a key audience for mega-events; occasions that act as crucibles where social problems endemic to host destinations can be exposed and tackled through targeted social policy. Drawing on the social model of disability, the paper examines how Japan utilised Tokyo 2020 as a field configuring event to disrupt systems of ableist thinking and tackle physical and attitudinal barriers restricting Persons with Disabilities (PwD) to accessible tourism. Qualitative evidence reveals national commitments to relegitimise, improve accessibility for - and acceptance toward - PwD in Japanese society, through transformations to the built environment, national awareness, and educational campaigns in the build up to Tokyo 2020. An over-emphasis on physical as opposed to social structural change mean negative attitudes often persist, where disability remains stigmatised, leading to PwD immobility and social exclusion. Our policy recommendations and managerial implications, alongside research directions attend to this disability-attitude gap.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104766
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalTourism Management
Early online date24 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2023


  • Accessible tourism
  • Field configuring events
  • Social model of disability
  • Persons with Disability
  • Physical disabilities
  • Mobility-restrictions
  • Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games


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