By Nick Butler

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games attracted a record global television audience ©AFP/Getty ImagesA record cumulative global television audience of more than two billion people watched the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced today. 

In total, 1,378 hours of action was shown on television from the Games across 125 channels in 55 countries, attracting a cumulative audience of 2.094 billion.

This represented a huge increase of 32 per cent on the 1.588 billion who watched the Vancouver 2010 Games.

Speaking during the Sochi 2014 debrief in the 2018 host city Pyeongchang, IPC President Sir Philip Craven hailed the Games as a stunning success "exceeding all our expectations".

In Russia alone, a cumulative audience of 625 million tuned into the coverage, but Sir Philip particularly cited coverage in the United States, and especially NBC's live coverage of the ice sledge hockey gold medal match won by the US team, as one of the "most historic moments" in Paralympic broadcasting history.

"Having received criticism for their lack of London 2012 coverage, NBC, NBC Sports Network, and the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) teamed up to ensure there would be no repeat in Sochi," Sir Philip said.

"The US was not the only country to receive more television coverage than ever before.

"The Games saw a record number of hours shown in a host of countries including Japan, Great Britain, Russia, Brazil and the whole of the Americas.

"As a result, I'm delighted to reveal that the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games were the most watched in history attracting a global cumulative audience of over two billion people."

IPC President Sir Philip Craven alongside Vladimir Putin at the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games ©Getty ImagesIPC President Sir Philip Craven alongside Vladimir Putin at the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games ©Getty Images

As well as the television figures, Sir Philip was full of praise for the athletes who lit up Sochi 2014 and the crowds who supported them.

He described how, "as they should", the athletes "took centre stage" and came "as the best prepared athletes ever to a Games and certainly did not disappoint".

"The vocal crowds and packed venues became a trademark of the Games," he added. 

But Sir Philip particularly cited the successful impact the Games have had on the Russian Government and on Russian society.

This came after the Games opened amid concerns over Russian interest in Paralympic sport, as well as the ongoing political context which saw Russia annex the Crimean peninsular of Ukraine in the week before the Games begun.  

"Because of the Games new legislation was passed at the highest levels of Government, and the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee created a new barrier-free infrastructure, ensuring that everything constructed for the Games was accessible for all," Sir Philip said. 

"Sochi is now a blueprint for the rest of Russia with 200 cities already using what was created for the Games as a guide for furthering their own accessibility.

"To hear President Putin confirm that this work will continue post Games is tremendous news and highlights the seismic impact staging the Paralympic Winter Games can have.

"Thanks to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, the lives of millions of Russians will be improved and enriched forever."

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