It seems unlikely.
Extraordinary figures. Athens pre-sold 1,000 Paralympic Games tickets. Beijing pre-sold 5,000. London has pre-sold 2.3 million tickets.— Richard Hawkes (@R_Hawkes) August 30, 2012
That claim is from a tweet by Richard Hawkes, the chief executive of disability charity Scope. Mr Hawkes provides no source for his figures, and (so far) hasn’t responded to questions about where he got the numbers from. His tweet has, at the time of writing, been retweeted over 5,000 times.
We can’t find any figures close to the ones he suggests - which, on the face of it, sound deeply implausible. Matthew Somerville dug out some alternative figures that sound much more likely:
Actual Beijing Paralympics ticket presales were 1.19 million as of 1st September 2008 (ref: news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-0… ). Not, umm, 5,000.— Matthew Somerville (@dracos) August 31, 2012
The Athens Paralympics sold 450,000 before the Opening Ceremony - en.olympic.cn/news/world/200… . We’ve sold loads, sure, yay. But you know, facts.— Matthew Somerville (@dracos) August 31, 2012
We’ve found other figures roughly in this ballpark - such as this story about Athens Paralympic ticket pre-sales “slumping” that puts the figure at 200,000; this official story from the Beijing organisers boasting of 480,000 sales almost two weeks before the Paralympics began. There’s little doubt that London 2012 is by far the most popular and highly anticipated Paralympics ever, with the 2.5million tickets available (almost a million more than the total available in 2008) almost entirely sold out in advance. That’s brilliant, and fitting for the country where the first ever Paralympics were held. But there’s no need to make up nonsense figures for previous Games to make ourselves look better.