London 2012: Games could face legal action for ‘failing disabled parents’

The organisers of London 2012 could soon be facing an embarrassing legal action, over their failure to help disabled parents sit with their children to watch Paralympic events.

As the first 60 members of the 300-strong ParalympicsGB team arrived in the athletes’ village this week, and with the opening ceremony just six days away, the London 2012 organising committee LOCOG appears to have made no effort to resolve the concerns of disabled parents planning to attend the games.

Disabled actor Melissa Chapin has been trying to work with LOCOG for the last fortnight to resolve concerns that she and other wheelchair-using parents with Paralympic tickets will not be able to sit with their children and friends.

She has been asking LOCOG to take steps to ensure that more wheelchair-users who bring their children with them to venues such as the ExCeL centre – which has mostly unreserved seating – will be able to sit next to them.

She has tickets for two days of competition at Excel – which is hosting sports such as sitting volleyball, powerlifting, table-tennis and boccia – on September 2 and 3.

On the first day, she will be joined by a wheelchair-using British Falklands veteran, her seven-year-old twins, and two personal assistants, but there is no guarantee that they are going to be able to sit together.

She has already been contacted on Twitter by 10 other disabled parents with similar concerns.

She believes LOCOG will not be able to rely on its volunteers – or “games makers” – to resolve problems on the day, because they will be swamped by disabled parents with similar seating needs.

Chapin has also pointed out that LOCOG stopped wheelchair-users from buying tickets through its website last November, forcing them instead to use an 0844 telephone number, as reported by Disability News Service.

She said this had made it impossible for disabled parents to buy tickets for themselves and their children.

LOCOG has so far refused to work with Chapin to find a solution to her concerns, or to comment on the issue to Disability News Service.

Chapin said: “It is becoming a human rights issue. It is almost impossible to make me crack, but the cracks are starting to show. The twins couldn’t believe this was happening to their mum in this day and age.”

She believes LOCOG is breaching the Equality Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Meanwhile, LOCOG has struggled to explain why it chose four of the most inaccessible spots in the United Kingdom to light its four Paralympic flames.

The flames were lit by groups of scouts at the summits of the highest peaks of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The four flames are being transferred to the four capital cities, where they will be the focus of a day of “flame celebrations”, before they are brought together into a single flame at a ceremony in Stoke Mandeville. A 24-hour relay will then take the single flame to the opening ceremony in east London.

A LOCOG spokesman said the idea of scaling the four peaks was about “showing what people can achieve”, and that they had “wanted to do something different and unique rather than replicate the Olympic torch relay”.

He said the idea would have come from the “creatives” in LOCOG’s torch relay team, but he said: “I don’t know specifically who had that idea.”

He added: “Unfortunately it was not going to be accessible to everybody but we tried to ensure that all the groups involved had a mixture [of disabled and non-disabled people].”

He said he believed that three of the mountaineers who took part in the flame-lighting events and “at least two or three” of each of the four groups of scouts were disabled people.

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

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Million more Paralympic tickets released for sale

Most of the remaining tickets for next year’s Paralympics in London are to go on sale from 1pm tomorrow (Friday 2 December).

About one million tickets will be sold on a “first come, first served” basis, with thousands of tickets still available for wheelchair-users. Ticket prices start from £10, or £5 for older and young people.

A final – much smaller – batch of tickets may be placed on sale in the spring, once seating arrangements for the Paralympic venues have been completed.

Among tickets still available are those for athletics, swimming, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis, equestrian events and wheelchair basketball, with the chance to watch some of Britain’s top medal hopes, including athlete David Weir, swimmer Ellie Simmonds, and multiple Paralympic equestrian gold medal-winner Lee Pearson.

More than 100,000 people in the UK were successful in applications for at least some of the 1.14 million tickets they applied for in September, when the first batch was placed on sale.

About 800,000 tickets have been sold so far in the UK, with another 200,000 sold internationally, and 126 of the 300 ticketed sessions are already sold-out in at least one of the price categories.

In 2008, the Beijing organising committee eventually sold 1.82 million tickets at full price, while the Chinese government bought another 1.64 million and distributed them to community groups, schools, and other organisations. Athens sold just 850,000 tickets for the 2004 Paralympics, while Sydney sold 1.2 million in 2000.

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Demand for Paralympic tickets is ‘unprecedented’

Demand for tickets for next year’s Paralympics in London has reached “unprecedented” levels, according to the 2012 organising committee.

Between 9 and 26 September, 116,000 people applied for tickets to next summer’s games, applying for a total of 1.14 million tickets.

Out of 300 ticketed sessions, 126 are now over-subscribed in at least one of the price categories and so will need to have their tickets allocated via a ballot – the first time any Paralympic games has had to take such a step.

There are only three sports – road cycling, sitting volleyball and powerlifting – in which there are no oversubscribed sessions in at least one price category.

Although it is the first time any organising committee has put tickets on sale so far in advance – and not on a “first come, first served” basis – a spokesman for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said that “we never have seen demand like this”.

He said: “To have applications for 1.14 million tickets after a three-week ticket window is phenomenal.”

In 2008, the Beijing organising committee eventually sold 1.82 million tickets at full price, while the government bought another 1.64 million and distributed them to community groups, schools, and other organisations. Athens sold just 850,000 tickets for the 2004 Paralympics, while Sydney sold 1.2 million in 2000.

But the figures for the past three Paralympics are for final ticket sales, while there is nearly a year to go until the 2012 games open.

Sir Philip Craven, the IPC’s president, said: “To have over a million tickets applied for 11 months out from the games is unprecedented and underlines the growing excitement for what will be a tremendous sporting event.

“This will be the first time ballots have been held for a number of sports, and I could not be more thrilled.”

Payment for tickets will be taken by 31 October, with notification of whether applications have been successful sent by 18 November.

More Paralympic tickets will be put on sale in December, with a final batch to be made available next spring.

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com