James Ashton: Sainsbury's deserves Paralympics plaudits

Sainsbury’s association with the Paralympics isn’t wholly altruistic

Sainsbury's has rightly made a big song and dance of becoming the Paralympics' first sole sponsor. Usually, Olympics sponsors roll over their involvement into the Paralympics, but Sainsbury's is the first to major on the traditionally minor event.

Eyebrows were raised when the chief executive, Justin King, announced the deal two years ago, but any doubts have been dispelled by tickets selling out and the buzz surrounding British athletes' hopes.

Although some of the last-minute scrabble can be put down to people who missed out on going to the Olympics, there is also a genuine groundswell of interest in Paralympic sports. Sainsbury's has played its part in creating that by offering equipment to schools to play everything from goalball to blind football through its Active Kids programme.

Mr King's association with the Paralympics isn't wholly altruistic, though: the supermarket has dodged the glut of sponsors' cash fighting for attention during the Olympics. And because the Paralympics isn't a protected TV event, Sainsbury's can plaster its orange branding across the stadia and athletes' bibs too.

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