Paralympics presenting team defended by broadcaster Ed Jackson Everyone there by merit

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The Tokyo Paralympics has now begun as coverage begins on Channel 4. This year the broadcaster has announced more than 70 per cent of the presenting team will be disabled. Speaking in an exclusive chat with Express.co.uk, presenter Ed Jackson has said all of the team are “there by merit”.

Channel 4 confirmed its presenting team earlier this year, with some familiar faces announced.

Among them is TV host and former basketball player Ade Adepitan and Strictly Come Dancing star JJ Chalmers.

Disability advocate Sophie Morgan and former cycling Paralympian Arthur Williams will also be joining ex-rugby player Ed to present.

The team also features non-disabled presenters Lee McKenzie, Clare Balding and Steph McGovern.

Asked if the shift to include more presenters with disabilities felt momentous, Ed said: “I think it does.”

However, the star was also quick to defend the talent chosen as no one has been “shoe-horned” in.

He continued: “But the thing is I believe that everyone there is there on their own right, on their own merits as broadcasters.

“The amazing thing is there’s no one there who I believe has been shoe-horned in because they have a disability.

“I think it’s just the fact that Channel 4 now have the confidence, or broadcasters now have the confidence, to look at people with disabilities on a level playing field with people who don’t have disabilities.

“And just take them for their abilities as a broadcaster, and they’ve done that.”

Ed continued: “There’s some amazing, amazing talent involved.

“There are some people I haven’t met before and haven’t got to work with that I’m really excited to work with and meet these people.

“We’re all just human at the end of the day.

“The fact that we’ve got disabilities is just something to talk about to each other and compare notes or whatever it might be but doesn’t actually define us as people.

“So I’m just, I’m just really excited to meet the humans behind the faces that are involved in this awesome lineup of broadcasters.”

Ed recently released his autobiography Lucky, where he discusses what he learned after suffering a horrific accident.

The former Rugby Union player sustained life-changing injuries when he dove into the shallow end of a pool.

The recovering Quadropligic was told it was unlikely he would walk again following the accident.

However, four years on, he has committed to walking up mountains in order to raise money for charity.

Lucky by Ed Jackson (published in Hardback by HQ, HarperCollins) is out now.

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