Friday, September 30, 2011

For first time in history, events for 2012 London Paralympic Games are oversubscribed

From BBC News. Pictured is David Weir, who won Britain's only athletics gold medal at the Beijing Paralympics.

A total of 116,000 people have applied for 1.14 million tickets to see next year's Paralympic Games, London 2012 organisers Locog have revealed.

Ballots will take place in some price categories in 126 of the 300 ticketed sessions across 16 of the 20 sports and for the opening and closing ceremonies.

International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven said: "The response from the public for Paralympic Games tickets has been phenomenal."

The Games start on 29 August next year.

A total of 1.5 million tickets in total were on sale for the Paralympics, which will feature more than 4,200 athletes, with a variety of disabilities, from 150 nations will take part.

It is the first time in history that sessions at the Paralympics have been oversubscribed and Sir Philip continued: "To have over a million tickets applied for 11 months out from the Games is unprecedented.

"It underlines the growing excitement for what will be a tremendous sporting event and I could not be more thrilled."

Locog chief executive Paul Deighton said: "The UK's love of sport and support for the Paralympic movement shows they have taken the Games to their hearts.

"When the Paralympic Games come home next summer we can look forward with confidence to packed venues cheering on our athletes."

Road cycling, sailing, powerlifting and sitting volleyball are the only sports in which at least one session has not sold out.

Locog will now finish processing the applications before holding the ticket ballots.

Payment for the tickets will be taken by 31 October and applicants will find out by 18 November if they have been successful.

In December the remaining tickets will go on sale, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Remaining tickets for the Olympic football tournament will go on sale at the same time.

Further contingency tickets for both the Olympics and Paralympics will be sold next spring.

BBC Sports News correspondent James Pearce described the sales figures as "extremely impressive".

On Monday, the day the window for applications for Paralympics tickets closed, London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe told the BBC: "We have a head-start with Paralympic sport in Britain."

Lord Coe added that the appreciation of the Games among British youngsters could not be overstated.

"Look at the extraordinary scenes in Trafalgar Square just a couple of weeks ago when we celebrated Paralympic Day," he said.

"Young kids from local schools were getting excited about seeing Ellie Simmonds, Oscar Pistorius, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and David Weir.

"The kids really do get it - for them it is excellent sport and the competitors have become household names.

"For young people, Paralympic sport is actually an interesting metaphor.

"It is about courage and determination, it is about equality and sometimes it is about overcoming extraordinary setbacks in life.

"But what they also know is that they are watching things that they can't do which is a pretty good way of defining sport really."

BBC athletics commentator Paul Dickenson, who has covered the Games since Atalanta in 1996, said that famous Paralympians had definitely raised the profile of their sports.

"Look at the polls that BBC Sports Personality of the Year has achieved in the last few years where both Ellie and Tanni have reached the last three as sportswomen let alone Paralympic sportswomen," he said.

"The profile that the general public have of these people is much, much higher than it has ever been before.

"And of course at every Paralympic Games I have ever been to, the medal count for the Great Britain team has just got higher and higher.

"We finished second behind China in Beijing and obviously we want to try to achieve that again by the time we get to London.

"There is a feeling that Paralympic sport is a concession made to people with a disability to take part in sport.

"But to be honest, if you have ever been to wheelchair rugby you would be utterly amazed at the commitment and entertainment value these sports give."