Paralympic fans ‘discriminated’ against

Organisers of the Paralympics have been hit hard by accusations of discrimination against disabled fans.

South Africans in the OR Tambo International Airport to give Team SA a send-off as they embark to London for the 2012 Paralympics on 21 August, 2012. Picture: LEAD SA.

LONDON - The London Paralympic Games begin on Wednesday, with many South African athletes having good medal chances.

But in London, organisers of the second biggest sporting event in the world have been accused of discrimination, for making wheelchair users book tickets over the phone at business rates.

After the scandal of empty seats and ticketing issues in the Olympics last month, it is an accusation which has hit organisers hard.

About 2.3 million tickets have now been sold for the London Paralympic Games, more than for any other Paralympics.

Encouraged by a widely-acclaimed Olympics, able bodied and disabled sports fans have rushed to buy tickets.

Originally, wheelchair spaces were sold online for several months like ordinary tickets.

But that changed in May, when they only became available over the phone.

But the phone line set up is premium rate and there is anger among disabled groups and several politicians who say the policy amounts to discrimination.

To make matters worse, some who have phoned up for the tickets claim their lengthy phone calls concluded with them being told the event they wanted to see had already sold out.

The International Paralympic Committee has said the special service is meant to assist wheelchair users to make the Paralympics as inclusive as possible.