Today marks a key milestone in the run-up to London 2012. On 29 August 2012, the Paralympics will return to the UK, which hosted the world’s first disability sports event in 1948 – later recognised as the beginning of the Paralympic movement.
Foreign Office Minister for Public Diplomacy Jeremy Browne said:
“In just 500 days, the world will witness a Paralympic Games like no other before. We look forward to showcasing to the world the giant strides the UK has made in disability equality and our commitment to building on this vast progress. This milestone marks a particularly special moment for the UK, as the country that hosted the first disability sports event in 1948 which later gave birth to the modern Paralympic movement, essentially putting disability sport on the map. We look forward to welcoming participants and spectators alike, as the UK aims to fulfil its promise to deliver the most accessible and inclusive games ever.”
The UK plans to take the Paralympics to another level. It will be the biggest Games yet in terms of competitors, audience and profile. Spectators will descend upon 20 competition venues across the UK to watch 20 Paralympic sports involving participants from 163 competing nations.
UK Embassies around the world are holding events in the run-up to 2012 to celebrate the Paralympic movement and disability sport, and to increase awareness of what the UK is setting out to achieve in 2012. A number of overseas posts are marking the 500 days to go milestone. For example, our Embassy in Latvia is supporting the ‘Unity Kilometre,’ a standalone event for disabled participants as part of the Riga Marathon. Brazil is inviting the Brazilian swimming team to an event at the British Embassy in Brasilia following their recent participation in the International Championship of Paralympics swimming in the UK. Russia is incorporating a treasure hunt as part of the annual marathon in Moscow specially geared for those with disabilities, highlighting the inclusiveness of the event.
London 2012 will be the first Games where the planning for both the Paralympic and Olympic Games has been fully integrated. The UK aims to host the most accessible games to date, maintaining its international reputation of leading the way in disability rights and making society more inclusive. Disability access has been incorporated into the design and structure of the buildings, open spaces and public transport for 2012 as the Games will set new standards for services, facilities and opportunities for disabled people. With 2 million tickets being made available for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the UK team is determined to deliver a phenomenal spectacle which can be enjoyed by everyone. Tickets for the Paralympic Games will be on sale from the 9 September. A wide range of Olympic Games ticket products will be available to ensure that disabled spectators have a great Games-time experience. Find our more about buying tickets here.
The UK’s commitment goes further than the Games themselves - it’s about harnessing the opportunity the Games present to bring about a real change in society’s attitude to disability and disability sport. The UK has proved instrumental in the growth of the Paralympic movement. In 1948, Doctor Ludwig Guttmann organised a sports competition for a group of wounded British war veterans at Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire. Four years later, Dutch athletes took part, making it an international event, and by the 1960 Games, 400 athletes from 21 countries took part and the competition was officially recognised as the ‘Paralympic Games.’
The application process for tickets to the London 2012 Olympic Games will be open from March 15 until 26 April 2011. People buying tickets in the UK can apply at any point during this period. Residents outside the UK and designated European countries should apply for tickets through their local National Olympic Committee or its Authorised Ticket Reseller from 15 March. Find our more about buying tickets here.