Paralympics To Sell Out For First Time, With More Than 2.4 Million Tickets Snapped Up
LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton has confirmed that 2.4 million tickets have been sold for the Paralympics, with 10,000 "set to be released on each day of competition," according to the London TELEGRAPH. This will be the first Games to sell out, ensuring they will be "the most successful Paralympics in history." Deighton also revealed the details for the Torch Relay ahead of Wednesday's Opening Ceremony. Deighton: "It's a 24-hour torch relay, so it's a very different concept to the Olympic torch relay. There will be about 580 torch bearers running in teams of five, so that's 116 teams of five, and it's about a 90-mile journey. It gets to London in the morning and then travels through the city" (TELEGRAPH, 8/28).
OUTCRY OVER SPONSOR: In London, Randeep Ramesh reported that ministers have outsourced more than £3B ($4.8B) of public services to multinational IT firm Atos, whose sponsorship of the Paralympics has "prompted a nationwide campaign by disability activists." The revelations come as the company, which conducts controversial medical assessments for benefit claims on behalf of the government, "reaps the benefits of its association with the Olympic and Paralympic movement." On Wednesday, disabled protesters will deliver a coffin filled with 85 pages of complaints from people and their families who "have been told they have to get a job despite suffering from serious impairments" (GUARDIAN, 8/28). Also in London, LOCOG has "defended the involvement" of IT company Atos in the Paralympics, just as it was forced to defend the involvement of contentious sponsors such as Dow ahead of the Olympics. Deighton said, "Atos is an incredibly valuable technology partner. They have been involved for many years now. They provide a portal for the volunteers, they provide a system to manage the information process and the distribution of results. They are a critical and valued member of delivering these Games" (GUARDIAN, 8/28).
BREAKING NEW GROUND: The AP reported that North Korea, long accused of "shunting its disabled residents off to isolated detention camps," will take part for the first time this year in the Paralympics. The country's sole competitor is a 16-year-old swimmer whose training only began in April. Former table tennis player Li Pun Hui, who is her country's leading advocate for disabled athletes, believes North Korea's participation offers "inspiration to others involved in North Korea's nascent disabled sports programs." Li said, "Healthy or disabled, if you have the will to succeed, there is no obstacle in your way'' (AP, 8/28).