London 2012 is the biggest Paralympic Games yet!
4280 athletes are taking part from 166 different countries. Examples of countries competing for the first time in Paralympics are Antigua, Albania, and San Marino. Over the next 11 days the Paralympic Games will be held in 19 different venues all around London.
Many have spoken, in the media, that London 2012 is Paralympic Games “coming home.” This is because it was in London, on the day of the opening of the 1948 Summer Olympics, that the first organized event for disabled athletes was held. These first games, called the Wheelchair Games, were held for British World War II veteran patients with spinal injuries. Four years later, in 1952, in the same location, Dutch veterans participated as well, making 1952 the first year for an organised, international competition for disabled athletes. The Paralympic Games, as we know it today, was held for the first time in 1960 in Rome. This was the first year that the Paralympic Games were not solely open to war veterans. In Rome, that year, 400 athletes from 23 different countries took part.
The term Paralympic derives from the Greek word ‘para,’ which means ‘alongside.’ Paralympic refers to a competition that’s held alongside the Olympics…
Paul Deighton, Chief Executive of the London Organizing Committee of the Games, says that the Paralympics are expected to sell out. Five days ago, last Friday, there were only 200,000 tickets left and 2.3 million had already been sold. Paul Deighton predicted that the remaining 200,000 tickets would be sold out right before the Games.
A sell-out would not be a surprise, as marketing and press coverage around the Paralympics this year has been larger than ever. Channel 4, who will be broadcasting the Games, has famously introduced this year’s Paralympic athletes as the “Super Heroes,” and made the phrase “thanks for the warm-up,” (referring to the prior Olympic Games) immensely popular on the internet. The aim of Channel 4’s marketing campaign is to move Paralympics from the margins to the center of the world’s attention, and to bring a whole new audience to the Games. The sub-slogan, “Forget everything you thought you knew about humans,” has worked well to create the atmosphere of excitement and anticipation that make the Paralympic Games seem unmissable.
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