London 2012: Half of torch relay participants will not be disabled people, says LOCOG


Only about half of those taking part in this month’s Paralympic torch relay will be disabled people, organisers have confirmed.

An initial analysis of participants whose stories were included on the London 2012 website – carried out by Disability News Service – had suggested that only about two-fifths of those chosen to take part would be disabled people.

That figure appears to have risen slightly as the final selections of participants were made, although LOCOG, the London 2012 organising committee, does not yet have final figures.

A LOCOG spokesman said that “at least half” of the participants would be disabled people, but that the relay was “never about setting a target” but “celebrating the human endeavour of Paralympians”.

He added: “We are still celebrating the fantastic people who are involved in the Paralympics, but it is not necessarily that the person carrying [the torch]is a disabled person.

“We think we have got a really good mix of stories that will make a celebration of the Paralympics and Paralympic values and we are very happy with the mix that we have got.”

He was speaking as LOCOG revealed full details of the torch relay’s 87-mile route.

Many of those taking part have been nominated for fund-raising or other charity exploits, while there will also be scores of representatives of the three “presenting partners” – London 2012 sponsors – who appear to have been picked only because they work for those companies.

Those nominated for the torch relay are supposed to embody the Paralympic values of “courage, determination, equality and inspiration”.

Channel 4 has already been criticised for its “absurd” decision to choose five non-disabled people – and not a single disabled person – to take part in the relay.

The three “presenting partners” – Sainsbury’s, Lloyds TSB and BT – have each chosen about 140 people to take part in the relay, with the other 150 or so being selected by bodies linked to the Paralympics itself and other London 2012 sponsors.

LOCOG this week published full details of how the Paralympic flame will be created and how it will make its way to the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony on 29 August.

Four separate flames will be created by disabled and non-disabled scouts at the summits of the highest peaks of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

These four flames will be taken in lanterns to the four capital cities for separate one-day festivals, and then to Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the national centre for disability sport and the spiritual home of the Paralympic movement, where they will be “united” at a ceremony.

A 24-hour relay will begin at the stadium at 8pm on 28 August, which will see the flame carried 92 miles through Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and the capital’s six London 2012 “host” boroughs, before arriving at the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.

During the 24 hours, the flame will visit landmarks such as the National Spinal Injuries Centre in Stoke Mandeville, Lord’s cricket ground, London Zoo and Tower Bridge.

16 August 2012

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