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Rio Paralympics in financial crisis amid low ticket sales, lack of funding

The Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, scheduled to begin on Sept. 7, are facing a financial crisis amid low ticket sales and delays in public funding, raising concerns about whether they will be able to be held unhindered.

Less than three weeks remain before the Paralympics begin, but only 12 percent of tickets have been sold, while support funds from the Brazilian and Rio de Janeiro municipal governments have been put on hold. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has moved forward with large budget cuts, but it remains to be seen whether the situation will improve.

At a press conference held in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 19, Sir Philip Craven, president of the IPC, said, "Never before in the 56 year history of the Paralympic Games have we faced circumstances like this."

The Olympic Public Authority, which acts as a mediator between the governments of the nation of Brazil, which has been responsible for Olympic and Paralympic preparations, and that of the state of Rio de Janeiro and the city of Rio de Janeiro, says that the two competitions were estimated to cost around 7.4 billion reals, or around 222 billion yen. The Rio 2016 Organizing Committee had intended to cover the costs completely with funding from the private sector, but with insufficient money from domestic sponsors and ticket sales, they have run over-budget.

Because of this, the Brazilian national government and the Rio municipal government had planned to provide 270 million reals, or about 8.1 billion yen, in support, but a federal court ordered the payment stopped for reasons including a lack of transparency, leaving the financial state of the Paralympics uncertain.

If such funds are delayed, there are concerns for how to meet the travel costs of the countries and territories participating in the Paralympics, which as of the end of July were expected to number 165. The organizing committee was supposed to have paid these costs by then, but the payments continue to be delayed. At the press conference, Craven said he expected the payments to be made soon, but there could be large effects on the participating nations due to the continuing delays.

The IPC also predicts that even if the payments are made, around 10 countries will have trouble putting together necessary funds. Unlike the previous Paralympics in London in 2012, which were considered a success, this year's Paralympic competition finds itself in a difficult position.

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