With Sunday night’s extinguishment of the Olympic flame in the Maracaña Stadium, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games officially came to an end.
The festivities in Rio, however, will ramp up once again on September 7th for 12 days of Paralympic competition – and massive budget woes have started to drastically impact that event.
Despite all of the doom-and-gloom in the run-up to the Olympics, things went with relatively minor hitches. There was no large-scale terrorist attack that keeps security personnel up at night, and aside from a few mother-nature-induced interruptions from high wind and rains, outside of organizers control, the athletic competitions for the most part ran smoothly.
But with two weeks until the start of the Paralympics, the IPC has had to make huge budget cuts.
In a statement released late last week, the IPC says that the Paralympic Games will proceed, in Rio, with all 22 planned sports. After talking about the great things expected at those Olympics, the statement, attributed to IPC president Sir Phillip Craven, addresses the hardships that they are facing.
Despite relatively inexpensive tickets, as of late last week venues were sold to only 12% of capacity – severely limiting the revenue coming in to offset the costs of operating the event.
“At the IPC we are a relatively small but united organisation,” Craven said. “It’s in our Paralympic DNA to see obstacles as an opportunity to do things differently and that’s what we are doing here. We are problem solvers by nature and fight for what we believe in.”
Among the challenges are 10 smaller countries who, because of a delay in Paralympic Grants to offset travel costs (as were agreed to in the hosting bid commitment for Rio 2016) may not be able to afford to travel to the Paralympic Games. Craven says that the IPC is working on solutions to “ensure their participation” despite the challenges.
Other pending cuts announced by the IPC:
- Relocating events from Deodoro Park to other venues to allow it to be dismantled and to run transportation more efficiently
- Decreased Rio 2016 workforce (which Craven says will impact athlete experience)
- Closure of many media centres, specifically those at venues
- Changes to transport services for athletes and delegations
Things that will not be impacted:
- Security forces, which will remain in place from the Olympics to the Paralympics
- Athlete services within the field of play
The events that were to be located in the Deodoro Park were shooting, equiestrian, and 7-a-side football. That closing would reduce the Paralympic Games from 4 to 3 clusters – Barra, Maracaña, and Copacabana.
He also alluded to a 150 million Brazilian Real (About $46 million USD) contribution promised by the Brazilian mayor despite that city’s ongoing financial crisis. New sponsors have also been signed to help offset the revenue shortage.
The woes are in contrast to the 2012 London Paralympics, which were claimed to be the first ever Paralympics in 56 years to “wash its face” financially – thanks to 2.7 million in ticket sales. That’s as compared to only around 290,000 sold in Rio so far.