RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The Rio de Janeiro Paralympics will cut costs as ticket sales languish and organizers struggle for cash, but the Games will go ahead with all 22 sports as planned, the president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said on Friday.
The event, due to start on Sept. 7, will also lack the crowds that flocked to the stadiums in Beijing in 2008 or London four years later, with only 12 percent of tickets sold, he said.
“Never before in the 56-year history of the Paralympic Games have we faced circumstances like this,” IPC chief Philip Craven told reporters.
“Since becoming aware of the full scale of the problem, we have focused all of our efforts on finding solutions to the problems.”
Measures include staff reductions, transportation cuts, a reduction of the number of volunteers and closure of some venue media centers. Organizers will also close the Deodoro Olympic park and move the wheelchair fencing down to the Olympic park.
Countries have yet to receive travel grants from Brazilian organizers and Craven said the payments needed to be done as soon as possible.
“We hope... it will be paid and paid soon,” he said. “These grants were a bid commitment and should have been paid to 165 participating countries at the end of July.”
“Some smaller nations cannot afford to book their travel until grants are received. Around 10 nations, even when the grants are paid, are struggling to fund their travel. That is why that has to be paid pronto.”
Organizers of the Rio Olympics have long run out of cash, with a judge in Brazil blocking further payment from the state and leaving the Paralympics without much-needed funding.
Brazil is going through its worst economic crisis since the 1930s and is also in the grip of a political crisis.
“I don’t feel let down,” Craven said. “But if we had more concrete information sooner, we would have known where we are a lot sooner.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Mark Bendeich