On the morning of the first day of action from the World Para Athletics Championships London 2017, organisers confirmed that the event would enjoy the biggest audience in World Para Sport championship history.
The first evening session at the London Stadium had 20,000 spectators, with more than 27,000 on Saturday. Sunday night built on that with at least 31,000 attending.
For the athletes, this level of support is the greatest ever experienced outside of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
With a schools ticketing programme backed by the Mayor of London, tens of thousands of schoolchildren have also been able to attend the Championships.
Records are also being broken in terms of broadcasting, with TV pictures beaming out to more than 20 countries around the world.
In addition to Channel 4’s live coverage in the UK, there is also live coverage in Japan courtesy of NHK, China through CCTV and in France with France TV.
NBC (USA), Globo (Brazil), ARD/ZDF (Germany), Rai (Italy) and TVNZ (New Zealand) are amongst the other rights holders to cover the event.
Enthusiasm for the Championships was boosted by Royal support to #FillTheStadium.
Prince Harry joined forces with T42 sprinter and Paralympic bronze medallist Dave Henson to encourage people to show their support for the world’s best Para athletes.
Niels de Vos, Championship Director, said:
“We are delighted to be able to announce a record opening weekend for a World Para Sport championship as well as the amazing global reach of the broadcast figures. We wanted to make this the most watched World Para Athletics Championships in history for the sport.”
Whizbee the Bee has been revealed as the official mascot for the World Para Athletics Championships.
Both Whizbee and Hero the Hedgehog, mascot for the IAAF World Championships, were created by nine year old Elinor, who was one of more than 4,000 entrants to the official mascot competition run by the championship organisers and Blue Peter in February.
Elinor’s designs impressed the judging panel, which included representatives from the Organising Committee, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the IAAF and Blue Peter as well as Olympic champion Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and double Paralympic gold medallist Richard Whitehead MBE, who both helped launch the search.
Children around the country enthusiastic about the Games
From the entries received, 29 of the top 30 were sent in by children who live outside London. Elinor, who is in the West Midlands, had an important message about the need to protect bees and hedgehogs, whose numbers are in decline across the UK.
“It is so exciting that my designs were chosen as the winner. I was so happy when I was told. When I saw the competition, I was really inspired but I didn’t think I would win. I chose Whizbee and Hero because they are endangered species and are survivors. Bees are really important because they make the world go around and hedgehogs are determined and brave. Whizbee has a blade like the Paralympians which is really important. It’s really cool getting them made into proper mascots. I can’t wait to see them in the summer.”
Elinor will now receive four tickets to a session at both Championships, a VIP tour of the London Stadium, a framed photo of the finished mascots and a Blue Peter orange competition badge. She has already enjoyed a VIP visit to see her designs come to life.
In line with Elinor’s wishes for her Whizbee, organisers conducted a successful search for an actor with a below knee leg prosthetic to perform as the mascot in the build-up and throughout the World Para Athletics Championships – something that has never been done before.
The World Para Athletics Championships take place at the London Stadium from 14-23 July. The IAAF World Championships are at the same venue from 4-13 August.
“Whizbee and Hero are the perfect partners for the Summer of World Athletics. They really capture the inspirational spirit of the competition whilst also sharing Blue Peter’s passion for raising awareness of the important issues surrounding the environment. Elinor’s designs are simply brilliant.”
A first for both championships in the same city
London 2017 is the biggest event to be staged at the London Stadium since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is the first time both Championships have been held in the same city, with over 3,000 athletes from over 200 nations competing over 20 days of action.
09.04.17 Less than 100 days till the World Para Athletics Championships
Double Paralympic T42 200m gold medallist Richard Whitehead MBE (coach: Keith Antoine) and fellow Paralympians Carly Tait (Jenni Banks) and Sam Ruddock (Jim Edwards) have revealed the Co-op as a Team Supporter of the British Athletics Para team as well as a National Partner of the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.
“Support Our Heroes” mosaic
The Co-op marked the partnerships by launching a ‘Support our Heroes’ mosaic for the British Para Athletics team.
The image includes Ruddock, Tait and Whitehead, and will be used as a digital image for the public to upload their messages of support in the build-up and throughout the Championships, which take place between 14 – 23 July.
The mosaic is one of a number of support activities they will be carrying out as a Team Supporter, with a ‘Co-op Local Heroes’ tour planned after the Championships.
On the announcement of the new British Team Supporter, Whitehead commented:
“It is fantastic to have the support of the Co-op as we build-up to the biggest World Para Athletics Championships ever. After the team’s success in Rio, there is a real buzz amongst the athletes and we all cannot wait to compete in front of our home fans at the London Stadium.
“I personally have wonderful memories from the Paralympic Games at London 2012, particularly the support we received from the great British public. I hope people will back the ‘Support the Heroes’ mosaic and upload their messages to the team – it really does make a difference to the athletes.”
UK Athletics Chief Executive and London 2017 Championship Director Niels de Vos said:
“We are delighted to welcome the Co-op as both a Team Supporter of our successful British Athletics Para team and as a National Partner for the World Para Athletics Championships. There is continuing support and enthusiasm for Para Athletics amongst the great British public and these partnerships reflect that.
As a National Partner of the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships, the Co-op will be ‘Feeding the Championships’ by providing nutritious British sourced meals to the entire workforce. The Championships mark the start of the Summer of World Athletics at the London Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the biggest sporting event of 2017.”
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