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Rio Paralympics Downsized due to Major Financial Crisis

by John Symon

August 20, 2016 (Bonn, Germany) – The International Paralympic Committee today announced major cutbacks to the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Apart from difficulties bringing all competitors to Rio, the Paralympics workforce will be cut, so will transport, there will be fewer facilities for media covering the Games, and at least one cluster of venues will be dismantled. At this time, it seems that para-cycling will be less affected by the cuts than some other sports.

“Never before in the 56 year history of the Paralympic Games have we faced circumstances like this,” said Sir Philip Craven, president of the IPC. “Since becoming aware of the full scale of the problem, we have focused all of our efforts on finding solutions to the problems.”

Brazil’s general economic woes, together with poor ticket sales for the Paralympics seem to be the major reasons for the financial shortfall. There are suggestions in some media that the cost of putting out recent brush fires, including the one which came close to burning out the Olympic mountain bike venue, was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of financing. Rio organizers had to spend money they didn’t have to combat a problem that had not been planned for…

Craven nonetheless put an optimistic spin on the situation: “I am fully confident Rio 2016 will be the best Games ever in terms of athletic performance. You only have to look at some of the achievements from Para athletes over the last two years to realize that we will witness some truly spectacular sport.” He also spoke highly of support provided by Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer, and by Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes.

Late payment of travel grants might mean not all the 165 participating nations will be able to afford sending athletes to the Games. “Currently we have around 10 countries who, even if the grants are paid, may struggle to cover the cost of their travel to the Games. The IPC is working with them to find solutions and ensure their participation here in Rio.”

Pedal understands that the Olympic Park in Deodoro will be closed and dismantled with the exception of the stadium there. It is now unclear where three sports might find a venue: equestrian events, shooting, and wheelchair fencing.

Road and track cycling events take place at the the Bara cluster which is not being dismantled. There are no mountain biking or BMX events at the 2016 Paralympics.

The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) also issued a statement:

“It is very positive to hear that the Brazilian Government and the City of Rio de Janeiro have committed to and confirmed additional funding for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, said Gaétan Tardif, CPC President.

“We will continue to review the areas of cuts on the operational side of the Games and adjust our plan accordingly while working with our national sport bodies to ensure an optimal preparation and competition environment for our athletes. We are confident in our plans to date and our resources are allocated to ensure we can address issues as needed.”

“Our goal remains to focus on performance and minimize distractions for Team Canada’s athletes and coaches, ensuring that they receive a quality environment to compete in.”

In other Paralympic news, the The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will hear an appeal by Russia on Monday, August 22 according to a post on the IPC website. Russia is attempting to overturn a blanket ban preventing any of its athletes competing at the 2016 Paralympics.

The 2016 Paralympic Games will run from Sept. 7–18 in Rio de Janeiro.

IPC release here.
CPC statement here.
Pedal’s earlier report on Russians being banned here.

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