The Paralympics offer an even greater moral lesson13 August 2012
It's getting very close. The tension is rising. Over 11 days, around 4,200 athletes from 150 countries will have the London arena, as well as Weymouth for sailing and Eton Dorney for rowing, as their setting for a global audience.
I am talking, of course, about the Paralympics. There's an appetite. More than 2m of the 2.5m tickets have been sold, and it seems impossible to get hold of the rest. Global television coverage will focus on athletes who have become heroes in their own countries – and who have congenital problems, who are blind or hearing-impaired, or spine-damaged or have lost limbs after accidents.
Though disabled athletes had occasionally taken part in the Olympics before, the Paralympics proper goes back to disasters of the last century. Its real founder was the neurologist Ludwig Guttmann, a German Jewish migrant to Britain who left Germany in 1939 on the eve of war. He settled in Oxford and then in 1944 went to Stoke Mandeville hospital, to treat British servicemen who had suffered spinal injuries.Back to news listing