16 Aug 2012

Locog assures disabled parents over Paralympic tickets

Paralympic organisers say wheelchair-using parents will be able to sit beside their families at sports events, but a disabled mother tells Channel 4 News more could still be done for people like her.

Melissa Chapin told Channel 4 News on Wednesday that she was concerned about being unable to sit next to her children at some Paralympic events.

She bought tickets for herself, her carer and her eight-year-old twins to attend sitting volleyball at the ExCel arena and to other general admission events including boccia, table tennis and powerlifting.

She said that a Locog ticket agent could not guarantee that they would be able to sit together.

Paralympic organisers on Thursday told Channel 4 News that all tickets to sitting volleyball are unallocated and unreserved, but that if Ms Chapin makes herself known to a steward at the start, she will be able to sit with her children – as will other wheelchair users.

Locog added that accessible seating is spread around the Games venues and that wheelchair users are not segregated from other spectators. “It is not our policy that wheelchair users can only be accompanied by one other person when attending the Games,” a spokesman added.

“I think it’s great that Locog are on top of this, I know we’re well on the way now,” Ms Chapin told Channel 4 News.”But I think we have a way to go yet to reassure the public that there is a viable system in place. It’s not really realistic for hundreds of us to turn up on the day and hope that Games Makers sort it out.”

She said she was still “cautious” about what would happen on the day, adding that disabled spectators still trying to buy tickets should be given more assistance on securing seats with their families. “Families want assurances now”, she added.

Q and A: How to get Paralympic tickets

Other disability campaigners had raised concerns about wheelchair users being forced to sit separately from the rest of the spectators.

Beth Davis-Hofbauer, a mother of two who uses a wheelchair, also says she was told she would not be able to sit with her children when she tried to get tickets this week. She launched a Change.org petition, urging organisers to change their policy, which now has over 30,000 signatures.

However Locog said this was an issue to do with the availability of tickets, rather than whether spectators were in a wheelchair. More than 2.1 million tickets have already been sold for the Paralympics and many sessions are now selling out. Locog said they could not always help everyone sit together in venues with reserved seats.