TOKYO (Reuters) - There have been more than three million requests for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics tickets via the first lottery phase, three times the demand seen a year out from the London 2012 event which went on to post record sales, Paralympics chief Andrew Parsons has said.
London is seen as the benchmark for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in terms of interest in the Games with a record total of 2.7 million tickets sold.
“We have some very good numbers on ticket sales,” IPC President Parsons told Reuters on Tuesday.
“We had 3.1 million ticket requests. It is an unprecedented number, three times more than in London (one year from the start of Games) and London was the most successful Paralympic Games so far.
“(This) shows the appetite that Japanese society has for the Olympic Games next year.”
About 600,000 tickets were allocated during the first lottery. In Tokyo 2020’s bid for the Games, organizers said there would only be 2.3 million tickets for the Paralympics but organizers are hopeful more tickets will be made available.
“It is a positive surprise and it is paying off all the efforts, not only of the IPC but also Tokyo 2020, the levels of government, the media and Japanese society,” said Parsons.
“They are engaged.
“If you think of the last wheelchair rugby tournament a few weeks ago and the enthusiasm of the spectators there, this is a country where people have fallen in love with Paralympic sport.”
Paralympic sports have grown in popularity in Japan, frequently appearing on television and often given equal billing to the Olympics in the buildup to Tokyo 2020.
In October, the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge drew big crowds and with Japan the current world champions in the sport, it is likely to be one of the most popular events next year.
While the Olympic marathons have been moved to the northern city of Sapporo to avoid the worst of Tokyo’s summer heat Parsons said it was likely that all Paralympic events would remain in Tokyo as scheduled. [L8N28E2C1]
“There was an overwhelming response from the athletes saying because the Paralympic marathon is the last event of the whole of Tokyo 2020, that it is the moment to be closer to the Tokyo spectators,” said Parsons.
“To be competing in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators... (is) a way to say thank you to them for the support.”
The 2020 Paralympics run from Aug. 25 to Sep. 6
Editing by Peter Rutherford