The Paralympic Village has played a large part in helping athletes feel at home. Home to 4,200 athletes together with team officials, referees and umpires, it was designed from the first with the requirements of Paralympic athletes as a priority. This has made the transition process from the Olympic Games to the Paralympic Games much smoother, by ensuring that facilities such as lifts and ramps are already in place.
Each team received a special Welcome Ceremony on arrival in the Village. ‘The athletes are spoiled with the Village and Ceremony. Everything’s magnificent. It’s a great honour to be here,’ said Dinad Monja, Chef de Mission of the Madagascan team.
Travel arrangements have also considered the needs of Paralympians. For the first time athletes have been able to board and leave planes in their own wheelchairs, something that will also benefit wheelchair users well after the Games have finished. Unlike previous Games, athletes can also travel together in one bus to travel to venues. In London up to six wheelchairs can fit on an athletes’ bus.
Above all, the passionate support of spectators has been a hit with athletes. On the second day of sport, 240,000 spectators passed through venues, with 170,000 of those on the Olympic Park alone. Noisy and enthusiastic, the spectators are giving athletes an unforgettable reception.
French swimmer David Smetanine of France said, ‘It is amazing, incredibly well organised. Everything is going smoothly. I want to congratulate LOCOG for what they have done. The support and love of sport is tangible everywhere.’
Director of Paralympic Integration for the London 2012 Organising Committee Chris Holmes commented, ‘The most important thing about the Paralympics is that we have a seamless, extraordinary experience for all athletes.’