Four years ago, London hosted the greatest Paralympic games in the history of paralympic games. Well over two million tickets were sold, a feat that doubled on the success of any previous year.
It was a million more ticket sales than the Beijing games, which came before it, and on ticket sales alone it rose to become the third-largest sporting event behind only the Olympic games and the FIFA World Cup.
The broadcast of the games also set records for the berth it covered. It was broadcast to more people in more countries than ever before and audience figures internationally rose by 37% outside of the UK to a new record.
At the end, the International Paralympic Committee chief executive officer Xavier Gonzalez praised London for delivering the best Paralympics Games ever and along with the praise had thrown down the gauntlet for Rio to not only match the success but to build on it.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games is finding it incredibly difficult to pick up that gauntlet. As the paralympic athletes begin to congregate in the city for the games which are starting today, only 12% of available tickets for next month’s Paralympics in Rio have been sold. That makes a paltry total of 300,000 tickets sold compared to London’s 2.72 million
To offset the woeful sales, budget cuts which will affect the venues, workforce, and transport are already in play. Organizers were also two weeks late in paying €8 million ($9 million) in travel grants, which was meant to support competing athletes and officials.
Even with those delayed grants which will now have to be paid to the athletes, around 10 teams are still struggling to get to Rio. Rio on its own part is using about $50 million in public money in an attempt to bridge the funding gap.
The International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven said in a statement:
“Never before in the 56-year history of the Paralympic Games have we faced circumstances like this…At this point it is difficult for us to expect the full venues that we saw in Beijing or London, or expect to see in Tokyo in four years’ time.”
At this rate, expectations are running very low for the games but we would be happy to report improved conditions as the sports take center stage.