Athletes with physical disabilities compete in the Paralympics. From 29 August to 9 September, more than 4,000 athletes from 174 nations will challenge each other in more than 500 medal events covering 21 sports.
To ensure fair competition, competitors are classified in six different categories to ensure that athletes with similar function and abilities compete against each other. The categories are amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, wheelchair, visually impaired and 'Les Autres', covering disabilities that do not fall into the other five categories.
Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for sport, will attend the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in London on 29 August which starts 21:30h.
" I am certain that the Paralympic Games will be nothing short of inspirational for all of us – whether athletes, spectators or viewers at home . I am looking forward to attending the opening and wish all the athletes an enjoyable games and good luck," said the Commissioner.
The Guardian reported that a survey by ComRes for Scope has found that disabled people in the UK feel attitudes towards them are getting worse (47% said attitudes had deteriorated in the past year, against 37% in May), but believed the Paralympics could help change perceptions.
"These games will help to increase visibility and familiarity in everyday life. Even so, we have to put it into perspective, attitudes will not be improved on a large scale until all disabled people have a chance to play a part and contribute to our community," Alice Maynard, chair of Scope said.
London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said he was confident that the 1.5m tickets that go on sale on Friday morning would become the first Paralympics to sell out without having to give any tickets away.
Since their inception in the aftermath of World War II, the Paralympic Games have always been inextricably linked to the advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities, to their inclusion into society, to their well-being and empowerment. This year’s edition is no exception.
“For the United Nations, the efforts of the Paralympic Movement are of great importance with a view of promoting the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, especially the reference to Sport due to the endless possibilities that Sport provides for inclusion and acceptance of diversity.” is the UN Secretary-General’s message for the inauguration of the Paralympic Wall that took place yesterday in the Olympic Village in London, UK. The message has been delivered by UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke.