By Tom Degun

January 9 - ParalympicsGB have admitted they fear for the long-term future coverage of disability sport and athletes like Ellie Simmonds and David Weir (pictured) after Channel 4 were yesterday awarded the broadcast rights to London 2012.

Channel 4 clinched the deal worth more than £5 million ahead of the BBC, who have shown every Paralympics since Arnhem in 1980 and invested millions of pounds in covering disability sport., which they are unlikely to continue now they will be unable to broadcast London 2012.

Channel 4 have committed to broadcasting more than 130 hours of the Paralympics in 2012 and also producing and screen two peak-time 10 part documentaries in 2011 and 2012, building the stories of the athletes and their journey to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

But ParalympicsGB officials are concerned about what will happen after London has hosted the Paralympics and in the build-up to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

A statement from Paralympics GB said: "LOCOG’s decision has been based on what they believe is right for the event that will happen in 2012.

"We must ensure that the 2012 coverage is a success but we must also have an eye on using the power of a home Games to inspire a change in attitudes to our sport so that the Paralympic Movement continues to grow from now until the London Games and is promoted beyond 2012, to 2014 and 2016, when the spotlight of that home Games is turned off.  

“As a nation, we only have one chance to make that seismic shift in perceptions."

The BBC have shown several disability sports events outside of the Paralympics, including the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.

The statement from ParalympicsGB said: "ParalympicsGB has been informed by LOCOG of its decision to appoint Channel 4 as the chosen 2012 Paralympic Games broadcaster in the UK.

"We congratulate Channel 4 on their winning bid and we look forward to hearing their detailed plans in the future.

"The BPA (British Paralympics Association) will do its utmost to work with LOCOG and Channel 4 to make the Games-time coverage a success.

"We believe this coverage is fundamental to achieving our legacy vision of using the power of the games to change attitudes towards Paralympic sport.

"We know that LOCOG can be rightly proud of instigating a process to establish the commercial value of the Paralympic Games and we are also proud that the success of the British team over many games has helped create that value.

"Equally, ParalympicsGB is saddened by the loss of its long-term broadcast partner the BBC, who have worked with us for over 20 years to deliver a strong Paralympic broadcast presence in the UK, that has been the envy of the world.

"We have had a great working relationship with them and they have always shared our view that the Paralympic Games and the British Paralympic team should be presented to the viewing public as an elite sporting competition, in true 'parallel' to the Olympics, rather than a niche disability event.

"The BBC has offered the Paralympic Movement in the UK continuity and depth of coverage across all platforms from live national coverage to regional and on-line."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
January 2010:
 BBC snubbed as Channel 4 awarded London 2012 Paralympic broadcast rights
December 2009: Exclusive - Payne does not believe London 2012 will sell Paralympic TV rights to Sky