The Rio Paralympics are picking up after a challenging start. Financial constraints, low ticket sales, and banned national teams are what had initially set the tone of the event. Not to mention political tension following the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, where numerous Brazilians have taken to the streets to protest the judgment.
According to an article published in NPR last month, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President, Sir Philip Craven, stated that this year’s Paralympic Games has seen the worst circumstances ever in the history of the event. The Games had to be scaled back to confront the limited financial resources, which meant that at the time some countries that depended on funding from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) might not have been able to compete.
Craven reported that there were ten countries that would have had difficulty to cover traveling costs, even if grants were provided. The proposed cutbacks included: decreasing the number of workers and transport as well as closing certain spaces reserved for staff, organizers, and the media. At the time the ticket sales were less than 300,000, a mere fraction of the London Games’ 2.7 million.
Brazil was expected to cover the financial implications associated with hosting the Rio Games, both Olympic and Paralympic. When the BRICS member was awarded the games in 2009, the economy was on the rise. However, since then the country has been experiencing its worst recession in several years and as a result, was billions of dollars over budget for the Olympics, NPR reported. To surmount these financial constraints, the city of Rio has sought assistance from state-run companies.
Silver Lining for Paralympic Games
In mid-August, the brand, marketing and culture director for London 2012, Greg Nugent, created an online crowdfunding campaign for the Paralympic Games to raise money to be able to send local children to the events. By Tuesday, September 6 the campaign had raised $200,000, some of which U.S. wheelchair racer, Tatyana McFadden, Coldplay and Prince Harry contributed to the donation.
Abby Dunkin, one of the players of the U.S. wheelchair basketball team competing in Rio, spoke about the important impact being able to watch the games live would have on the children. “For (kids) to see, ‘they’re in wheelchairs, and they can do this. Or, they don’t have a leg and they do this, then I guess I can, too’.” Dunkin stated that it is more than the athletes’ games, it is about “the movement and educating everyone outside,” IOL News reported.
Moreover, according to South China Morning Post, spokesperson for the IPC, Craig Spence, stated that organizers were currently selling about 400,000 tickets per day and seek to overtake Beijing’s overall sale of 1.7 million. If Rio succeeds, it would make the event the second best attended Paralympic Games after London 2012. The travel grants that were delayed by a month have finally been paid, allowing countries that might have previously been unable to participate for financial reasons to compete.
Rio Paralympic Games yet to receive ample coverage
Although things are looking up for Rio 2016, athletes are still unsatisfied with the level of coverage of the event. According to Forbes, some standard Brazilian cable channels did not broadcast the opening ceremony.
The country’s biggest channel, Globo, aired a soap opera chapter while on another channel that was initially showing the event, the broadcast was interrupted by local election advertisements.
In addition, in India there is next to no television coverage of the games, which sheds light on the lesser recognition Paralympic athletes receive compared to their Olympic counterparts.