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Five years to go until the start of the Paralympics

It's five years to go to the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. At this time London and the whole of the UK will be the centre of the world’s attention as the opening ceremony gets underway in Stratford, London.

Planning for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is integrated for the first time for a Summer Games, providing an outstanding sporting experience for athletes from all backgrounds and a memorable legacy for Paralympic sport in the UK.

A firm commitment to improving sports participation through the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has also been included for the first time.

“The Paralympic Games is one of the world’s most exciting and inspiring sporting events for elite athletes, and we want to ensure that our Games in London are the best ever” said Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee. “We want to set new standards on and off the track, and be a catalyst for continued change for public attitudes towards disability. Our use of the same core emblem for both the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is part of this process”.

“The Paralympic Games will be a huge festival of sport with the whole of the world watching events including; Boccia, Goalball, Wheelchair Tennis and Wheelchair Rugby. The Games will leave a memorable Paralympic sports legacy including a physical legacy in new tennis facilities in the north of the Olympic Park. London 2012 will provide a compact and inclusive Paralympic Games with high quality accessible venues, transport services and excellent Village facilities for athletes as well as for team and technical officials.”

The North West 2012 Steering Group has been set up to ensure that the region will gain maximum economic, sporting and social benefit from 2012 and to provide local people with every opportunity to engage with the Games. Leading these themes are: the Northwest Development Agency; Sport England and CultureNorthwest.

Sir Philip Craven is President of the International Paralympic Committee and a board member of Culture Northwest.

Sir Philip: “The North West has a strong tradition of excellence in Paralympic sport with champions like Sarah Bailey and Shelley Woods. As we look forward to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 we must work together to ensure there are more opportunities to participate in sport for everyone, wherever they live and whatever their sport.

‘We are sharing our experience of hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2002 – and how we work with athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators. One example is the GamesMobility Service which will be developed at 2012 and which was used at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games – it means that spectators with a disability and other participants in the Games will be offered a Games-wide free service, enabling them to book a ticket for a guaranteed accessible location, and will have access to a personal guide to the event.”

Last year, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) approved the Paralympic venue plan and there have been productive discussions between the London 2012 Organising Committee, the International Olympic Committee and the IPC which resulted in an integrated version of the master schedule – a prime project management tool.

The London 2012 Organising Committee is the first Organising Committee to base the Olympic and Paralympic logos around the same core emblem. The recently relaunched London 2012 website has more Paralympic branding and content, setting new standards of visibility for the Paralympic Movement.

The bulk of London’s Paralympic competition venues are set in two zones - the Olympic Park Zone and the River Zone. The two zones are within 15 minutes of each other, leading to one of the most compact Games ever, minimising travel times and disruption for Paralympians.

Significant progress has been made this year on the development of the Olympic Park and the Athletes Village.

All Paralympic athletes will be housed within the Athletes’ Village set within the Olympic Park which has been designed to be fully accessible and will be built to the national ‘Life Times Home’ standard. The village is an example of the very best of inclusive design. Paralympic sailors and rowers will have accommodation close to their competition venues in Weymouth and Eton Dorney but will also have a bed available within the village if required.

Outside the two zones, road cycling will take place in Regent’s Park in central London, the new sport of adaptive rowing in Eton Dorney, which hosted the successful rowing world championships in August 2006, and sailing at Weymouth and Portland.

To celebrate five years to go to the start of the Paralympic Games, the London 2012 Roadshow is visiting Stoke Mandeville Stadium, home of British wheelchair sport on the final date of its successful summer tour. There will be a range of different sporting activities for young people to try out and there will be a wheelchair basketball match with international juniors. Leading Paralympians Tanni Grey-Thompson, Ade Adepitan and Pete Norfolk will be attending to take part in the action.

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Note to Editors:

Other key facts and figures about the Paralympic Games are listed below.

The London 2012 Paralympic Games will run from Wednesday 29th August through to Sunday 9th September, and are the second largest multi-sport event in the world. There will be 20 sports, 4,500 athletes and 2,300 officials taking part. They will follow on from the London 2012 Olympic Games which take place from Friday 27th July to Sunday 12th August.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, responsible for the staging of the Games, is integrating and coordinating all planning for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. It is the first Organising Committee to integrate planning for the Games in this way.

The London 2012 Paralympic Games have been scheduled to start on a Wednesday to enable two full weekends of action. The day after the Opening Ceremony, Thursday 30th August, has been scheduled as "Paralympic Day", where spectators will be encouraged to try out Paralympic Sports and watch athletes compete and train. There will also be cultural performing arts events taking place and the day will be a celebration of Paralympism.

The Olympic Park will contain the main athletics stadium where the athletics and opening and closing ceremonies will take place, the Hockey Centre will host Seven-a-Side and Five-a-Side Football, and the Velopark will host Track Cycling. In the north of the Park at Eton Manor will be the Archery and Wheelchair Tennis venue which will be converted post Games into a state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor tennis centre, with a tangible legacy from the Paralympic Games for the local community. Three indoor arenas will host Wheelchair Rugby, Goalball, Wheelchair Basketball, Judo, and Wheelchair Fencing. The Aquatics Centre will host Swimming. The Athletes’ Village is also set within the Park, as are the Main Press Centre and the International Broadcast Centre.

Moving south eastwards, the River Zone will see a lot of action. The Greenwich temporary arena will host Sitting Volleyball and Greenwich Park will host Equestrian, providing a stunning backdrop. ExCeL will host Boccia, Powerlifting, Wheelchair Basketball and Table Tennis. The Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich will host Shooting.

All these venues are less than 15 minutes away from the Olympic Park making travelling between venues easy and convenient for competitors and spectators. As a result 90% of athletes will be within 15 minutes of their venue.

The tennis centre at Eton Manor in the Olympic Park is a tangible legacy of the Paralympic Games for the local community and will also provide Wheelchair Tennis with another tennis venue in the UK for Grand Prix events and championships.

Another legacy from the Paralympic Games includes the relocation of hockey pitches after the Games to Eton Manor.
The Paralympic movement has its origins at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where Sir Ludwig Guttman organised the first competitive wheelchair games to coincide with the 1948 London Olympic Games.

There will be a cultural festival with concerts and street festivals taking place throughout the UK to bridge the gap between the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

The Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony will be a spectacular ceremony featuring the best of British art and entertainment and will be a celebration of sports and arts for the disabled.

There will be a wide range of accessible accommodation available for spectators ranging from five-star hotels to affordable student and bed and breakfast accommodation. The Paralympic media community will be in fully accessible hotels in Bloomsbury, and there will also be accommodation near to the International Broadcast Centre, the Main Press Centre in the Olympic Park, and close to the ExCeL centre.

For further information please contact the London 2012 Press Office on +44 (0)203 2012 100 or visit the website at www.london2012.com.

For more information about Sport England NW pls contact: Sarah-Jane Gray 07914 377868

Find out the latest from London 2012 HQ on our Work in Progress blog http://blog.london2012.com

http://www.sportengland.org/northwest

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