Sport fans 2.0

All eyes are currently on the Canadian mountain landscape, where displays of sporting prowess will be taking place well into March. March, you say? Yes, that's right, because post-Vancouver is also pre-Vancouver: the Olympic Games may end on 28 February, but hot on their heels come the Paralympic Games, from 12 to 21 March.

As a partner of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the National Paralympic Committee Germany (DBS), Allianz is supporting the high-caliber sporting event and reporting extensively in both internal and external media on the competitions and the impressive achievements of the Paralympic athletes.

New: Allianz is now involved in social networking via Facebook and Twitter. The sport sponsoring team is publishing Paralympics news, videos, interviews and links on the two sites and entering into dialog (in English) with followers and fans.

"The Web 2.0 with its real-time functionality is the perfect vehicle for international exchange, which is of course a raison d'être for events such as the Paralympics," says Steven Althaus, Senior Vice President Global Brand Management. "Thanks to Facebook and Twitter we can now network with even more people and give the sport and its protagonists a higher profile."

Allianz is now using Twitter and Facebook to report on the Paralympics – actively seeking dialog

The sponsorship model set up in 2006 by Allianz and Deutsche Telekom together with the National Paralympic Committee Germany ensures that in the run-up to the Paralympic Games the top German athletes are able to reduce their working hours by up to 50 percent. This means they are better able to reconcile work and training, and their employers receive financial compensation.

The program has already supported more than 50 Paralympic athletes in this way, including visually impaired German biathlete Verena Bentele, who is a Vancouver medal hope in almost all the Nordic disciplines. At the Beijing 2008 Summer Paralympic Games, the German national team won 59 medals.

Around 6.7 million severely disabled people live in Germany. By presenting the Paralympic athletes as role models, the program wants to encourage more people with disabilities to take up sport. It has already seen early success: in 2008 alone, the National Paralympic Committee Germany saw its membership increase by around 55,000. And in the same year the DBSJ, the organization's youth section, signed up 4,000 new sports-mad youngsters under 21.

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