Brazil’s Finances Prove To Be A Hurdle For Paralympics, Too
RIO DE JANEIRO — With the Olympic Games ended, Brazil immediately faces another crisis as it tries to keep the financial promises it made to the world as host of the fast-approaching Paralympic Games.
Even before the curtain went down Sunday night on the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil was slashing what it intended to spend on the Paralympic Games, the international sports competition for athletes with disabilities.
The 15th Paralympics will begin here Sept. 7 and end 11 days later. More than 4,300 athletes from at least 165 countries are scheduled to compete in 20 sports. The U.S. announced it will bring a team of 267, mostly athletes, the largest U.S. delegation yet. A record number of outlets are expected to broadcast the games to more than 100 countries.
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As part of their being awarded the Olympics, Rio de Janeiro and Brazil were to cover most of the associated costs of the Paralympics.
Even after approving the transfer of about $71 million in government funds, part of it briefly delayed by prosecutors, Brazil is struggling to meet its commitments to the games, according to Sir Philip Craven, the president of the International Paralympic Committee.
“Never before in the 56-year history of the Paralympic Games have we faced circumstances like this. Clearly Brazil is in a far different position now to the one that it was in October 2009, when it won the right to stage the games,” Craven said.
Among the cuts: transportation services and other support. Organizers now are scrambling to do more with less.
The Paralympic Games are for athletes with disabilities ranging from blindness to cerebral palsy to amputations. The games have many of the same sports as the regular Olympics, everything from judo to wheelchair basketball, rugby and fencing to weightlifting and the newly added sports of canoeing and para triathlon.
The goal, as Craven put it in a statement, is “to make Rio, Brazil, Latin America and the world a more equitable place for all.”
But that sense of equality in athletic competition is already fading. Organizers, for example, have announced that the Deodoro venue, where shooting and the equestrian competition took place during the Summer Olympic Games, will be closed during the Paralympics.
Brazilian organizers have confirmed that only 12 percent of the tickets for Paralympic events have been sold so far — about 300,000 — a staggeringly small number since some tickets cost less than $4. Ticket sales were expected to help defray some of the costs of putting on the events.
© 2016 McClatchy Washington Bureau
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