Despite obstacles, Rio readies for Paralympics


Despite obstacles, Rio readies for Paralympics 2

It has been a rocky lead-up to the Paralympics – funding issues and sluggish ticket sales amid a crippling Brazilian economy.

CCTV America’s Lucrecia Franco reports from Rio.
Follow Lucrecia C. Franco on Twitter @LucreciaFranco

Paralympians from every corner of Brazil have been promoting the country’s first Paralympics games ever with samba.

Team Brazil is hoping to move up two places from London 2012 and finish fifth in the overall medal table.

To achieve that, the athletes said they need crowd support. “We need a crowd. We need people cheering for us in all matches,”said Fred Souza, Brazilian Sitting Volleyball Athlete. “That’s the secret for us. We are very emotional in the court so people shouting for us makes a big difference.”

Just two weeks ago, organizers were not only facing budget shortfalls for the 23 sports, they had sold only 12 percent of the available tickets. On the eve of the games, ticket sales are still well below the target.

“Of the 2.5 million available tickets on our website we expect to sell 80 percent. That is two million tickets,” Donovan Ferreti, Rio games’ Ticketing Director said. “We already sold more than one million, so we are more than half way.”

Travel grants for foreign delegations had to be paid upfront by the International Paralympic Committee and will be reimbursed in Rio with emergency public funds from the federal government and the city.

While there have been issues in the run up to the Rio Paralympics, organizers and athletes are confident the event will match the success of the recent Olympics.

Costs have been slashed to host the games. Officials are counting on the warmth of Brazilians to once again show the world that their country can deliver a spectacular event.

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