Disabled people are set to play a prominent and public part in both the London 2012 Olympics and the Paralympics, after organisers revealed that they would make up five per cent of the huge volunteer workforce.
The London 2012 organising committee LOCOG told Disability News Service (DNS) that about five per cent of the 70,000 volunteers who have been signed up – about 3,500 people – had described themselves as disabled.
The “games makers”, as London 2012 volunteers are called, will perform valuable roles across the venues at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Some will check tickets or direct spectators to venues, while others will assist in medal ceremonies, work as part of the London 2012 mobility service, transport athletes, or help with the games results service.
LOCOG said that about half of those disabled people who applied to be games makers had been successful, compared with less than a third of non-disabled applicants.
The figures are welcome news to LOCOG, after DNS revealed that fewer than 100 of the 3,000 adult volunteers set to take part in the Paralympics opening ceremony would be disabled, and that disabled people were also set to be out-numbered on the Paralympic torch relay.
Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson, who won 11 Paralympic gold medals, has spoken of how the recruitment of disabled volunteers would play a vital part in the success of the games.
She said two years ago that she hoped between five and seven per cent of the volunteers would be disabled people, and that having thousands of disabled volunteers would “help break down people’s attitudes to disability and impairment”.
A LOCOG spokeswoman said they were “very pleased” with the number of disabled games makers they had recruited.
She said: “We made a big effort to make sure disabled people knew there were opportunities, and to show them we would provide reasonable adjustments when we could and make sure they knew they could be a games maker and be supported.”
She added: “From the start we said we wanted the games to be for everyone. It will show the world that we took that commitment seriously and that we have worked hard over the last few years to make sure we have a diverse and inclusive workforce.”
She said LOCOG also hoped that its efforts would leave a “legacy” that would encourage disabled people to volunteer after the games had ended.