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Rio Paralympics 2016: Organisers worried Games could fall flat as more than half the tickets remain unsold

Less than half of the total 2.5 million tickets have been sold so far even though the prices are low.

News 04 Sep 2016, 18:37 IST
The Rio Paralympic Games have been getting low ticket sales as the budget cut has affected the schedule

The organisers of the Rio Paralympic Games have come under intense pressure as many tickets for the event remain unsold with less than a week remaining for the opening ceremony. However, there have been certain steps that they have taken to help in the sale of the tickets for the different events at the Games.

Even before the start, the Paralympic Games have been affected by financial cuts, grimy village rooms, volunteer shortfalls and poor tickets sale, which has led to fears among the organisers that the event could see very low attendance figures as compared to the Olympic Games.

A late marketing push may revive the excitement amongst the fans as the pressure for delivering a good Paralympic Games mounts. The Paralympic torch relay has been the best opportunity to increase the enthusiasm amongst the Brazilian public. Reports suggest that less than half of the total 2.5 million tickets have been sold so far even though the prices are as low as 10 reais (£2.30) which is a quarter of the cheapest seat prices at the Olympics.

Also read: Rio Paralympics 2016: Organizers under fire as athletes forced to clean 'grimy' rooms at Games Village

There has also been an online campaign in the UK which was named as #filltheseats. The campaign aimed at citizens from the UK buying tickets for the Brazilian children. The results of the campaign have been 10 times more than its initial target with donors such as Sainsbury’s and Allianz joining the cause. 

The ticketing director of Rio 2016, Donovan Ferreti was quoted by the Guardian as saying, “We have a long way to go, but we are happy with the last-minute demand. It’s really affordable – cheaper than going to see a movie. We are telling people they can have a great time with high-performance competition and have a great day out in the Olympic Park.”

Many of the problems have arisen due to the funding problems. The South American country has been suffering from recession since the start of this year and had to use the funds of the Paralympic Games to hold the Olympic Games successfully. Reports have also suggested that the organisers have decided to cut short the use of different venues.

The Deodoro Olympic Park was scheduled to host the wheelchair fencing event but it has now been relocated to the main Olympic Park in Barra. The parties to be held just before and during the Paralympic Games have been cancelled as big screens which had been placed around the country have been taken down. Reports also suggest that around 1,900 temporary staff have been told they are no longer required.

The biggest change that has been made has been that the number of seats have also been reduced as the organisers had initially hoped to sell 3.4 million.

Also read: 5 interesting facts to know about the Rio Paralympics 2016

The President of the International Paralympic Committee, Sir Philip Craven described the opportunity as a positive one. “I am fully confident Rio 2016 will be the best Games ever in terms of athletic performance. The opportunity we have here to make Rio, Brazil, Latin America and the world a more equitable place for all does not come around very often,” he said.

However, the British Paralympic Association termed the situation as worrying but also said that their athletes will give their best. Great Britain’s Chef de mission, Penny Briscoe, said, “This Games is not without its challenges, but with a very experienced team on the ground, and the huge support of the British public back at home, we will give our athletes the very best opportunity to shine now that the Paralympic Games is under the spotlight.”

Reports in the Brazilian press have also suggested that unforeseen costs such as draining and refilling the Olympic pool have been passed on to the Paralympics but the organisers are blaming low sponsorships and ticket revenues for the loss. The losses have seen the organisers go to the city and national government for a help of 150 million reais (£34.6 million) to cover travel and food costs for the disabled athletes.

Teresa Costa d’Amaral from the Brazilian Institute for the Rights of People with Disabilities, said, that the situation in Rio remains very tough. She said, “People are put at the margin of society because a wheelchair can’t get on a bus, or because there aren’t enough schools teaching braille. People with disabilities have to fight a lot to have their basic right to access health and education. It’s not an easy life, being disabled in Rio.”

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