Paralympics wins 'historic' Sainsburys sponsorship deal

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A multimillion-pound sponsorship by Sainsbury's of the London 2012 Paralympics was described as "historic" today by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president.

Sir Philip Craven said after the supermarket giant became London 2012's first Paralympic-only sponsor: "I think it is most certainly historic."

London 2012 are billing the deal as the largest ever sponsorship of a Paralympics.

Sir Philip said: "I think what we have got here is a highly competitive and enthusiastic organising committee (London 2012) which has taken the product we have discussed with them and got interest.

"They (Sainsbury's) will go out to the whole of the UK through its 850 stores and its colleagues and get out to Britain the importance of the Paralympic Games in 2012."

Sainsbury's will get coveted space on athletes' bibs, on swimming blocks and around key venues such as the velodrome during the Paralympics in return for running a media campaign.

The top-level sponsorship deal also means Sainsbury's will be one of just two sponsors to take advantage of the limited branding allowed during the Games.

Efforts are being made to sign up more Paralympic sponsors, according London 2012 Lord Coe.

London 2012's task of raising £2 billion from the private sector to stage the Games is in "very good shape" considering the recession, he added.

Lord Coe said: "We will of course be looking for more Paralympic sponsors to play a part in that space - that has always been our objective.

"This is our 29th partner, which a great story. We have raised significantly over £600 million which is 72% of our operational budget, which is a good position to be in with over two years to go."

The Sainsbury's deal covers the London 2012 Paralympic Games only.

The tie-up is also a high-profile boost for Sainsbury's which will be a "stadium brand", involved in the Paralympic Torch relay and selling Paralympic merchandise.

It will also dovetail with its ongoing sport and health programmes including Active Kids. Sainsbury's staff will have a chance to be seconded to London Olympic organisers.

Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King said: "We felt that would be unique and different and much better suited to what Sainsbury's could add to the equation.

"I am pleased that the Paralympic movement felt the same as well."

Given Britain's history with the Paralympics, dating back to at least 1948 and Stoke Mandeville, the 2012 Games would be a key chance to try and change public attitudes to disability, according to Lord Coe.

He said: "(Without Sainsbury's sponsorship) It would not be struggling. The Paralympics is a powerful brand with very strong messages.

"We take our responsibility to deliver the Paralympic Games extraordinarily seriously.

"Sitting alongside Channel 4 as our broadcaster this will help to make sure these Games are integrated but also distinctive, which is our ambition."