ticket office, an important challenge to bring the public closer to parasport

The Paris 2024 Organizing Committee hopes to sell more than three million tickets for the Paralympic Games. Between ignorance of the athletes, of the disciplines or of the classification, there is no shortage of obstacles.

The sales phase of tailor-made packages for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games ends on Wednesday 15 March, to kick off registrations for the single ticket draw. Meanwhile, the Paralympic Games are patient. The ticket office will only open in the autumn.

In the meantime, initiatives to promote disabled athletes who will shine in the capital in less than a year and a half are multiplying. The first event that will allow this ray of light to be focused: the Paralympic Athletics World Championships, the second largest parasport event in the world after the Paralympic Games, which will be organized in Paris at the Charléty stadium from 8 to 17 July. Whether or not audiences will reach into their pockets to fill the enclosure remains to be seen.

Ignorance, the first obstacle to overcome

“I don’t know yet what I’ll do this summer, but I admit I don’t know the athletes or the disciplines, so it’s unlikely I’ll take a seat”, confesses Benoît, a thirty-year-old sports enthusiast. Same story for Amel, 42, who underlines the lack of identification with these sportsmen: “There are so many different disabilities that it’s hard to navigate”. When asked about the Paralympic Games, Kevin, 31, has trouble projecting himself: “Impossible to know where I’ll be at that moment, but I won’t stop myself from traveling from Paris to assist you. If I’m there, I could go, at the last minute…” For Azha, “It doesn’t matter the sport, it’s the atmosphere that’s interesting. Between Olympic and Paralympic table tennis, for me it’s just the experience and the sport that come first.”

These conflicting testimonies leave room for doubt: will the general public, who know little about disabled athletes and their disciplines, buy tickets to attend a parasport competition? “Spectators were interviewed after the para-cycling world championships at the Vélodrome national de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in October, where the event was accessible for freeexplains Adrien Balduzzi, director of marketing and events at the French Handisport Federation (FFH). We received 8,000 people over the four days, so an average of 2,000 a day. We did a questionnaire: ‘After this experience, would you be willing to pay to participate in this type of competition?’ And people said yes. It shows that there is a prism of knowledge, and after trying, there is a purchase option.” As long as the prices remain affordable.

“When people step foot in it, they’re ready to come back.”

Adrien Balduzzi, FFH Marketing and Events Director

to franceinfo: sports

Organizer of the Para Athletics World Championships, the FFH has decided to set up a paid ticket office, a first in the history of the event. The base price has been set at 15.99 euros for a full-price session (10.99 euros for a reduced price). “Our ultimate goal is to reach 100,000 tickets sold at the end of the competition, therefore 5,000 paying people per seat and a third of the stadium per day to pay”adds Adrien Balduzzi, also director of the Organizing Committee (Comap).

Half of the tickets under 25 euros for the Paralympic Games

The theme is equally crucial for the Paralympic Games in Paris, the first summer edition in history in France. More than three million tickets will go on sale, of which 500,000 for less than 15 euros and more than half for less than 25 euros. A willingness to remain accessible, reaffirmed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), to allow families to participate in the event, in view of “transmission between generations”.

London crowds took to the streets of the British capital during the Paralympic Games marathon on September 9, 2012. (DIDIER ECHELARD/FFH)

“We are sure there is demand”, says Ludivine Munos, former Paralympic swimmer, 12-time medalist and now head of Paralympic specificities within the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee (Cojo). the Ifop poll carried out in September 2021, which shows that 90% of French people supported the organization of JP in the capital. With a slight nuance: “We must continue to promote our disciplines”.

>> Also Read: Paralympic Games Tickets ‘Will Be Cheaper Than Olympic Tickets’

Media awareness seminars, athletes highlighted during valid competitions, Olympic and Paralympic week in schools (April 3 to 8), Paralympic day, organization of events, game projects and quizzes to understand the rankings… The initiatives of the Cojo will multiply until next year promoting sports unknown to the general public. In parallel, the documentary film “Rising Phoenix” will return to Netflix in the form of a miniseries dedicated to the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Many signs – such as the increase in live broadcast hours for the Paris 2024 Games on France Télévisions – suggest that yes, the ticket sales record set in London in 2012 could be broken in 2024.

Paris 2024 wants to surpass London 2012

Twelve years ago, 2.7 million seats sold out in the British capital to come and see ‘superheroes’ with disabilities. A new record since the introduction of paid ticketing for the Paralympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 (in Barcelona in 1992 only the opening and closing ceremonies were paid). “Since then, each edition breaks the codes and improves visibility”, says Ludivine Munos. A shared impression given the sales data and when Tokyo, before Covid and the absence of the public in 2021, claimed more than three million ticket purchase intentions.

Number of Paralympic Games tickets sold since 1996

Today, the Paralympic Games are the third largest international event in terms of ticket sales after the Olympics and the FIFA Men’s World Cup. For 2024, the goal is to confirm this statistic a little more. Before operating, in France, an evolution of the financing of the parasport?

Getting out of dependence on public funds, a necessity for parasport

“The economic model of the Paralympic Games is not yet as mature as that of the Olympic Games”he never ceases to remind Tony Estanguet, the president of the Cojo. “It is a more recent event, born in 1960, for this reason there is a public funding contribution so that these athletes are in the same conditions as the Olympic athletes”.

While 97% of the Organizing Committee’s budget is provided by private funding (payments from the IOC of the amount of TV rights, sponsors and partners, ticket sales), an additional public money of 100 million euros is earmarked for the operational needs of the Paralympic Games, according to an appendix to the 2023 budget. An economic dependence that is found on a national scale.

A look at what the parade of athletes will look like during the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024, on the Place de la Concorde.  (Florian HULLEU / PARIS2024)

According to a publication by the Court of Auditors dating from the summer of 2022, the French Handisport Federation (FFH) and the French Federation for Adapted Sport (FFSA) “they are among the most helped by public authorities”. “Although disabled sports practices require greater resources (supervision rate, equipment, etc.) than those of valid clubs, the two specific federations have relatively significant support from the state. This is established, all funding consolidated , to 17.4 million euros in 2021 (+25.2% compared to 2020).”

The establishment of paid ticket offices can be an element. “The goal is to make the Paralympic Games a turning point”says Adrien Balduzzi. “Ultimately, our events are destined to become paid. It may not always be 10 or 15 euros, but rather two or five euros. There must be an act of purchase because there are shows, a show. Parasport wants that recognition, that first step.”

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