Jeremy Hunt hopeful London 2012 Paralympics can change attitudes

 

Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and
sport, hopes the London 2012 Paralympic Games, which open tomorrow, can
be the catalyst for changing perceptions of disability.

The Paralympic torch relay, featuring 580 torch bearers as 116 teams of five, was set to begin at the birthplace of the Paralympic movement at Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire today.

The 90-mile journey is set to take place overnight, finishing at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, where the opening ceremony of the XIV Paralympic Games takes place tomorrow.

The ceremony will signal the start of 11 days of competition by almost 4,300 athletes from 166 countries, across 20 sports for 503 gold medals and Hunt is optimistic Britain will embrace the Games.

"For many Brits this will be the first time they have seen the Paralympic Games at all," he said.

"It will be a very big moment to really change perceptions and that will be something to be proud of.

"Although it's the third time we hosted the Olympics, it is technically the first time we've hosted the Paralympics. The Paralympic movement started in 1948 in Stoke Mandeville, the first actual Paralympics was in 1960.

"This will be a very historic moment for the country that founded the Paralympic movement, to actually be hosting its first Paralympics."

Accessibility and inclusion, in transport terms, have been tackled in relation to the Games and the hope is the Paralympics can alter attitudes.

It is to start at schools, with all those participating in the School Games, of which Prince Harry is president, required to offer Paralympic sports.

Hunt added: "A lot of the sports that are being offered can be played with disabled and non-disabled children alongside each other, sports like boccia, goalball, sitting volleyball.

"That means there's a big chance to change attitudes amongst non-disabled children."

While Channel 4 plan to broadcast 500 hours of live sport, American broadcaster NBC have attracted criticism for their paltry plans, with the International Paralympic Committee's own YouTube channel filling the void.

Hunt hopes Britain can lead by example in Paralympic sport and that other nations will follow.

He said: "There is still far too much inequality and that extends to sport and the Olympics. The Paralympics can be a great power for changing that.

"In the Olympics we've seen a huge profile given to women. That's been a change that's been welcome.

"The best way that we get attitudes to change around the world is by hosting a fantastic Paralympics.

"People who don't give it the coverage it deserves will realise they made a mistake."

The Games are on course to be the first Paralympics to sell out.

More than 2.4 million tickets have been sold, with half a million to overseas visitors.

The opening ceremony is sold out, with 800 tickets given to troops and police, while around 10,000 tickets will be sold each day during the Games.

London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton said: "We've tried to get as many people in as we reasonably can.

"This is a wonderful illustration of how the British public have said we love the Paralympics and want to be part of it."

PA

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn