By Karolos Grohmann
(Reuters) – The Paris 2024 Paralympics aim to sell every one of the 2.8 million tickets before the global event gets under way to top the record figures set in London in 2012, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons said.
Tickets for the Paralympics, to be held between Aug. 28-Sept. 8, weeks after the Olympics in the French capital, go on sale on Oct. 9.
“The ambition is to sell each and every ticket, 2.8 million, and then this will make Paris the number one in terms of ticket sales. London 2012 was 2.7 million,” Parsons told Reuters in an interview exactly one year before the Games begin.
“We want these Games to sell out even before the opening ceremony. So what we want is that we sell every ticket before the start of the Games,” he said.
Their strategy is affordable prices starting at 15 euros and a spectacular backdrop with iconic venues, such as Roland Garros for wheelchair tennis and the Eiffel Tower for five-a-side football.
It will be the first Olympics and Paralympics to have spectators since the 2021 Tokyo summer Games and the Beijing 2022 winter edition were staged without fans due to COVID-19.
“After two editions of the Games, spectators are back … with incredible venues at the heart of the city,” Parsons said.
“We will have this combination of the tourists that already will be here, people coming for the Games and altogether creating this incredible environment.”
“There will also be a higher quality of athletes,” Parsons said. “If you compare the athletes, the performances, generally across the 22 sports with the last time we had spectators, which is Rio 2016, as a product it is even better.”
What has not yet been decided is whether Russian and Belarusian athletes will take part in the Paralympics that will kick off with an opening ceremony along the Champs Elysees.
The IPC had last year suspended the paralympic committees of both countries and banned their athletes from competing following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Belarus has acted as a staging ground for Russian troops and weapons.
Although an appeal against the suspension of the committees was upheld this year, Russian and Belarusian para-athletes remain banned.
The IPC will decide in September whether to allow them to compete in Paris and the decision will come just weeks before the International Olympic Committee decides on their participation at the Paris Olympics.
Parsons, who is also an IOC member, does not expect one to influence the other.
“We work together from an operational side when it comes to the Games but we are different organisations, we have different constituencies and we have different governance structures,” he said. “So from time to time, we may take different decisions on similar topics.
“It’s something that most organizations are aware of that we may have different decisions. The Paris 2024 organising committee is aware and the French government is aware that we may have two different approaches when it comes to Russia and Belarus.”
The IPC members at the general assembly in Bahrain on Sept. 27-29 will pick one of three options. They can vote to ban Russia and Belarus from the Games, allow them to compete as neutrals with no flag or anthem or let them take part without any restrictions.
“I don’t want to speculate which way it goes. I hope everyone who goes to Bahrain is really, really sure of how they’re voting and the reasons why they’re voting one way or the other,” Parsons said.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)