London Paralympics helped to shift public's attitudes towards disability — Coe
LONDON, England (AFP) — The London Paralympics has helped shatter social taboos and attitudes towards people with a disability, as well as giving a new, high-profile global platform to disabled sport, organisers said yesterday.
"I really genuinely do think that we have had a seismic effect on shifting public attitudes," London 2012 (LOCOG) chief Sebastian Coe told a news conference at Olympic Park in east London on the last day of the Games.
The Games have "shown the way to treat people with disabilities", the former double Olympic 1,500m champion added, as the event had "defined ability over and above disability".
"I don't think people will ever see sport in the same way. I don't think they will ever see disability in the same way. We have talked about what we can do rather than what we can't do," he told reporters.
Organisers had billed the Paralympics, which began on August 29, as the biggest and most high-profile since the first Games were held in Rome in 1960, with a record 4,200 athletes from more than 160 countries taking part.
Some 2.7 million tickets were sold and venues were packed, while in Britain at least, the competition has been covered extensively on television, radio, online and in newspapers.
A total of 251 world records were set in 207 events going into the final day, with stand-out performances, particularly those from the host nation, creating an unprecedented interest among the public.
Overseas, the Games were broadcast to more than 100 countries — although few broadcast it live preferring brief highlights packages — with events streamed live on the video-sharing website YouTube for the first time, LOCOG said.
"We have created new stars. We have inducted them in a way to the world of sport," Coe added.
"We all have friends who have texted and rung and emailed about some of the things they have witnessed in the Paralympic Games that have been some of the most spine-tingling moments of their viewing careers.
"We set a goal to raise awareness. I really think we have done that, not just in elite sport but in helping in a way to convert some of these extraordinary talents into household names."