Doubts over Paralympics as IPC stages crisis talks
Rio’s staging of the Paralympics was on the brink of meltdown last night after a judge blocked a £66 million Government bailout which could force up to 40 countries to pull out of the Games.
The International Paralympic Committee was locked in emergency talks with the Rio 2016 organising committee and the local authorities over the crisis, which was preventing the payment of travel grants to national Paralympic committees.
Rio 2016 was already a fortnight late paying grants totalling around £6 million, including a six-figure sum to the British Paralympic Committee, which funds the cost of flights for all athletes and support staff.
Great Britain was not among those countries which would be forced to pull out in the event of non-payment, which could wipe out almost the whole of Africa and Asia from the Games.
Rio 2016 has been accused of spending money earmarked for the Paralympics on the Olympics, the budget for which has ballooned amid Brazil’s worst recession for decades.
Plans to authorise a bailout of 270 million reais (£66 million) for the Games were derailed when a judge ruled that the federal government and the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil could not provide public funds unless its accounts were made public.
Rio 2016 director of communications Mario Andrada confirmed yesterday the organising committee was contesting the injunction, adding of the crisis: “We’re going to do what needs to be done.”
Andrada was also forced to deny on Saturday that Rio 2016 had run out of money or was planning to cut the Paralympic sports programme.
Another area of huge concern for the IPC is ticket sales, with only a third of the total tickets available for the Games having been bought so far.
Andrada admitted on Saturday that interest in the 2016 Paralympics, which is due to begin on Sept 7, had so far been “below expectations”.