UPDATE: Read Hawking, McKellen, Pistorius and Queen Elizabeth open 2012 Paralympic Games with a Big Bang
SAN DIEGO, August 29, 2012 – The Paralympic flame is working its its way through the streets of London, on its way to the Opening Ceremonies of the 16th annual Paralympic Games on Wednesday, August 29.
The torch is traveling on a 92-mile route over 24 hours from Stoke Mandeville to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London. The Flame is being carried by teams of five torchbearers, a total of 580 people all named as participants due to inspirations acts.
Watch live video of the the Paralympic Torch relay online here
Follow the Paralympic Torch with a live interactive map
The Games will run from August 29 through September 9. Nearly 2.5 million tickets have been sold for 21 sports in the Paralympics, and both Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the Olympic Stadium are a sellout. The Opening Ceremony takes place live at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. The start time in London is 8 p.m.
As with the Olympic Games opening ceremonies, another noted film director is leading the creative team, “Billy Elliott” director Stephen Daldry. Another equally spectacular, utterly British program is promised. The theme is “Enlightenment,” celebrating Britain’s history of science and discovery. The creative team promises it will be both spectacular and deeply human. Great names from Isaac Newton to Stephen Hawking will be honored during the ceremony.
Like the Olympic Games, Queen Elizabeth will officially open the Paralympic Games. And once again, Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” will provide some of the narrative, with a young actress playing the character Miranda, guiding the audience. Among the acts participating is the aerial stunt team Aerobility, which features disabled pilots; and a team of 50 disabled performers including non-competing Paralympic athletes and disabled British veterans who have trained to perform an athletic Cirque du Soleil type circus routine.
The music is being kept a secret, but it said to include a wide range of styles from classical to modern rock.
The athletes will come in earlier than at the Olympic Games, and be seated on the track as part of the audience. The Olympic Cauldron will be the same as the Summer Olympics cauldron. But this time, it will have 166 inscribed petals representing the 166 nations in the Paralympic Games, fewer than the 205 at the Summer Olympics. Who will have the honor of lighting the flame? While the cauldron may no longer be a secret, the final torchbearers remain closely guarded.
Four thousand disabled athletes will compete in the Paralympic Games, including a delegate of 227 from the United States, the largest Paralympic Games ever held. An estimated four billion people around the world will attend or watch part of the Games.
There is no live television coverage in the United States. There will be live coverage online at the U.S. Paralympics team website. Four different live streaming channels will carry a total of 580 hours of coverage through September 9.
In addition, there will be summary reports aired daily on the Paralympic Games YouTube channel, available on demand as they are produced.
So where is NBC? NBC Sports Network announced that it would carry one hour highlight shows the final week of the games on Tuesday, September 4, Wednesday, September 5, and Thursday, September 7, at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. It will air two additional programs on Tuesday, September 11 at 7 p.m. Eastern, and a 90-minute special on Sunday, September 16 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time with highlights of the Paralympic Games.
The lack of live or even delayed same day coverage on broadcast or cable networks in the U.S. has fueled plenty of criticism from fans and critics alike, along with activists who had hoped for the opportunity to showcase the accomplishments of the disabled community. The Paralympic Games are being broadcast extensively in Great Britain; also on several Canadian networks and Australian television networks.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She writes on professional cycling and covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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