Rio 2016: Paralympics to go ahead despite ‘major budget cuts’


Paralympics

Delayed travel grants will be paid to athletes although 10 countries may still struggle to get their teams to Brazil.

“We want full participation here”, he added.

International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven, speaking at a news conference in Rio on Friday, said there would be cutbacks to next month’s Paralympic Games in Brazil.

However, Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, has secured millions of dollars in additional funding and sponsorship from state-run companies after the lifting of an injunction that had blocked further state aid for the Games.

Britain’s Paralympic body expressed concern that Rio’s constrained budgets are setting back the games.

“The sales of tickets and the sponsorships have been below our expectations”, Mario Andrada, spokesperson for the Rio organizing officials, said Thursday. When Brazil was awarded the games in 2009, the economy was booming.

The IPC said it has already sought to reduce costs over the previous year and the new, deeper “major budget cuts” will affect every team and visitors to the games.

“Never before in the 56-year history of the Paralympic Games have we faced circumstances like this”, IPC president Philip Craven said. The wheelchair fencing will move from the Youth Arena in Deodoro to the Olympic Park, allowing organisers to begin dismantling the common areas.

The IPC said the workforce for the Paralympics will be downsized, transport services cut and the media centres closed for the games. “It’s what the athletes deserve and it is what the athletes want after years of training and dedication”.

Craven also warned the crowds that flocked to stadiums in Beijing in 2008 or London four years later won’t rock up to Rio, with only 12 per cent of tickets sold. “The IPC is working with them to find solutions and ensure their participation here in Rio”, he said.

The city was supposed to provide $85 million in funding, but a judge ruled August 12 that the Brazilian government and the city of Rio could not afford the cost, according to NPR, citing Reuters. The Paralympics have a strong track record for changing global attitudes towards people with an impairment, and are now widely regarded as the world’s number one sporting event for driving positive societal change and social inclusion.

“They have dedicated their lives to reaching these Games and we will do our upmost to try and maintain the service levels and scope that they expect at a Paralympic Games”.

“We know the money is there now – whether it is in Rio 2016’s bank account today or Monday, I don’t know – but it has to be paid pronto”.

Speaking to ITV News, Colbourne, who retired in 2013 after winning a gold and two silvers at London 2012, said: “We’re trying to promote the paralympic movement here, we’re trying to up-skill and upscale what we do as athletes”.

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