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London is ready for the Paralympic Games

Over the past few weeks, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has undertaken a huge transitional operation in order to ensure that the Paralympic Games are just as successful as the Olympic Games earlier this summer.

“The transition to what will be the largest Paralympic Games ever is a huge operation in a short time period,” says Paul Deighton, chief executive of LOCOG. “We are getting ready to welcome the world’s Paralympians, and deliver a truly spectacular Paralympic Games.'

The London 2012 venues were designed with both Games in mind but there are a number of specific changes that have been made for the Paralympics. All venues will see the look and signage refreshed and the flags of the nations revised, while there is also adjustments to broadcast requirements and changes to fields of play, as the sports in each venue are slightly different.

The transition that has taken place at the Olympic and Paralympic Village took just five days (16-21 August). The Village, which hosted over 10,000 Olympic athletes, has been customised to accommodate 4,280 Paralympic athletes, 3,500 team officials, 1,225 Games Officials and 22 assistance dogs (there will be 1,800 wheelchair users in total). Some 14 tonnes of workshop equipment and spare parts are also in place for Ottobock’s service provision for athletes, which includes a wheelchair repair centre.

At the Royal Artillery Barracks, a 14-day transformation has seen a field of play lighting refocus and seating bowl modifications, in addition to further enhancements that make it suitable as a combined Paralympic shooting and archery venue.

In addition, there are two new competition venues for the Paralympic Games. The first, Eton Manor, is situated in the north of the Olympic Park and features nine courts for the Wheelchair Tennis competition, all designed in a striking blue colour. During the Games, it will also house temporary training pools for Paralympic Swimming events. The second is Brands Hatch – the internationally-renowned motor racing circuit near Sevenoaks in Kent – which will host 7,500 spectators each day over four days of Paralympic Road Cycling competition.

Some of the Olympic venues will be reused for different sports in the Paralympic Games. For example: ExCeL will be used for Wheelchair Fencing, Boccia, Sitting Volleyball and Powerlifting; the Copper Box will be utilised for Goalball; the Riverbank Arena will host the 7-a-side football and 5-a-side football; and the North Greenwich Arena will accommodate the Wheelchair Basketball.

LOCOG has committed to making sure that the Olympic Park and venues are accessible to all types of visitors. Specific accessibility designs include corridors, which are large enough for two wheelchairs to be side-by-side, changing places facilities in all venues, and a Games mobility service in the Olympic Park for spectators with mobility needs.

The London 2012 Paralympic Games, which will begin on 29 August, will see 201 more events taking place in five fewer days of competition (compared to only 302 events in Olympic Games).

There will be 4,280 athletes competing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games – the largest number of athletes ever to attend a Paralympic Games since the first official Games took place in Rome 1960.


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