Paralympics 2016: What the hell is going on?
The build-up to the Paralympic Games has been a far cry from what it should be – instead of being all about tales of triumph and inspiration, it’s been overshadowed by fears about funding, attendance and initial doubts it would even take place at all.
Here’s a bit of a breakdown of what the hell’s been going on…
To do with money
Organisers were over three weeks late in paying the equivalent of â¬8.3m in travel grants to competing nations. It means that some of the poorer nations, who rely on this funding, might struggle to get teams there.
It was also claimed that organisers of the Rio Olympics had been dipping into the pot of money set aside for the Paralympics, and that overspending caused the delay.
To do with cuts
With the Paralympic budget way below what was originally promised, the International Paralympic Committee announced the Games would go ahead but with major cuts.
The biggest was the closure and dismantling of the Deodoro Olympic Park, and the subsequent moving of events to other venues. Others include a downsizing of the workforce and changes to transport services for athletes and their team members.
To do with attendance
Only 12% of tickets had been sold with just weeks to go. This was particularly worrying because of how empty the Rio Olympic stadiums sometimes looked – where nearly 90% of the tickets had apparently been sold. However, things have certainly picked up since then, with a reported 1.5 million tickets – about 60% – now sold and expected to keep selling right up until the Games begin.
There’ll also be no Russians athletes in attendance this year after the IPC announced they would impose a blanket ban in light of the country’s state-sponsored doping allegations – something the International Olympic Committee shied away from doing.
To do with classifications
The latest blow to the Paralympics came in the form of claims that classifications are being manipulated and athletes are being mismatched in order to boost medal chances.
Team GB sprinter Bethany Woodward gave up her funding and withdrew from the Games over the weekend, telling the Sunday Times that she wanted to speak out about the controversial issue.
UK Athletics – the governing body for British track and field athletes – has said it will launch an inquiry after the Games have finished.
Let’s just hope nothing else goes wrong in the final days before the Games begin.