Paralympics 2012: London to host 'first truly global Games'

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic and Paralympic sports reporter

Great Britain is on course to stage "the first truly global Paralympics" in London this summer, say organisers.

Xavier Gonzalez, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) chief executive, believes the Games will inspire people from around the globe.

"Beijing was a magnificent Games which impacted the lives of almost 100 million people in China," Gonzalez told BBC Sport.

"But we really believe that London can bring that impact across the world."

Great Britain hosted the first ever Games for athletes with a disability in Stoke Mandeville, 1948, primarily for injured World War II veterans.

Since then the Paralympics has grown considerably and a record 4,200 athletes are expected to take part this summer.

Gonzalez believes the Games "can probably be what we call the first truly global Paralympics", and added that the event "coming home" to the UK is an important step.

"Since Sydney 2000 there has been a movement across the world and globalisation, we have gone from a few countries really taking Paralympic sport seriously to now a large number," he said.

"This is the first one where we have had a lot of publicity build-up, which is exciting,

"The Paralympic ticket sales, one million sold a year out - this is unprecedented and I think there is a special relationship between the British public and the Paralympic movement."

The IPC recently announced a new dealexternal-link with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which will see the 2018 and 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games take place in the same country.

They have done so since 1992 in Barcelona but the present deal was due to expire after Rio 2016.

The agreement ends suggestions of a merger to form a 'super Games', which emerged following the publication of a study last year which suggested almost two-thirds of disabled people in the UK wanted an end to separate eventsexternal-link.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said the Paralympics would "disappear off the face of the earth" if a merger took place, and in April this year double Paralympic swimming champion Eleanor Simmonds backed that view saying, "It's great the way it is."

Gonzalez insisted: "It is not something we are considering. For us the model that we have at the moment is one that has proved very successful for the Paralympic Games.

"We want to see this as two Games of one giant sporting festival Olympic Paralympic, great athletes, great performances and a great impact on the country where the Games is taking place."