By Nick Butler

Sir Philip raised concerns over spectator enthusiasm among Russians for the Winter Paralympics in SochiNovember 10 - Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), has admitted concerns over ticket sales ahead of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games, but has repeated his confidence about barrier access and treatment of gay athletes.

Sir Philip is standing for a record fourth term as President of the IPC described a successful Sochi 2014 as one of his key aims if he is re-elected.

But he admits that ticket sales could be a major issue.

Overall sales have been strong - higher than for the Vancouver 2010 Games - but uptake has been low for the Paralympics in Russia.

With the success of the London 2012 defined by the strong home support this lack of Russian interest is a concern and Sir Philip admitted that they "have a problem at the moment with ticket sales." 

"We are looking to address that urgently, both with the Organising Committee and the Russian Government," he told BBC Sport.

Similar sentiments have also been expressed by Mikhail Terentyev, head of the Russian Paralympic Committee, who said shortly after tickets went on sale there were "significant concerns" that the competition would not attract enough spectators to fill the vast new stadiums.

Sir Philip was more optimistic about other potential problems, including the extent of barrier-free access throughout both the facilities and the rest of the city in Sochi. 

When visiting Sochi Sir Philip was confident that necessary improvements regarding barrier access have been madeWhen visiting Sochi  IPC President Sir Philip Craven was confident that necessary improvements regarding barrier access have been made

Sir Philip admitted he was "sure that if you go out in the city you will find somewhere that is not accessible," but that the Russians have made "significant progress here and it was always their intention to do so".

He revealed how before Beijing 2008, Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and chief executive of Sochi 2014, had been on a tour of China to see the barrier-free environment created in the Chinese capital and how it was replicated in other cities and major towns in the country

"He came back and reported to me and I think that inspired him and others to ensure that if they got the Games they would use this as a key element at the Paralympic Games to transform Sochi, and then move that to the rest of Russia over time," said Sir Philip.

"We now very much believe they are up to the right standard."

Sir Philip was also optimistic about the issue of gay rights, despite concerns raised by athletes including, including 10-time Paralympic dressage champion Lee Pearson, who claimed he was "ready to go to prison for telling [Russian President Vladimir] Putin his anti-gay laws are an outrage".

"I haven't spoken to Lee about this I think every individual has got the right to express their views," said Sir Philip. 

"He is obviously a passionate man and a passionate man talking about what he believes in.

"I think what we have done, in a very similar manner to the IOC (International Olympic Committee), is obtained assurances from the highest levels of Government within Russia that this law, which is to do with the education of minors or children, will not affect the Games or any member of the Paralympic family,.

"As a sports organisation that's where we are at on this situation.

"Athletes go to the Paralympic Games, or the Olympic Games, to compete and that is their prime motive for going there.

"I think that we as the IPC have to ensure that their possibilities for participation will not be affected by anything taking place within the nation and that's what we've done."