There is less than a week left before the Rio Paralympics opens, and organizers are still worrying that there may be no crowd to cheer the 2000 plus athletes participating in the games. On top of this, fired staff, budget cuts and travel expense concerns have threatened to make the upcoming Rio sporting event branded as the “neglected Games.”
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With athletes from around the globe slowly arriving at Rio’s airport, organizers are now trying a last ditch effort to bring in more fans and people to witness the Paralympics. There have even been campaigns created to promote an initiative to fill the seats at Rio, led by an Olympics executive, two Paralympians and Coldplay.
“We do not want some of the greatest athletes in the world participating in empty stadia,” shared London 2012 marketer Greg Nugent on his crowdfunding website. “And we do not want to send the wrong message about the importance of disability sports at this critical time for the world.”
Their #FilltheSeats has actually raised more than $25,000 to put 10,000 Brazilian children in the stands at the games.
But is that enough?
At this point, barely half of the 2.5 million tickets for the Rio Paralympics have been sold. Updates are saying that more than a million are already off the shelf, but this still does not guarantee that there will be people on the seats come opening day.
Prices have also been dropped significantly already, with tickets being sold as cheap as $3.
Some activists are also stressing the importance of putting more attention on the games, emphasizing that filling the seats in not just for the athletes, but to continue the prevailing “transformative impact” of the Paralympics.
“We hope an experience like this can change the way people without disabilities think about people with disabilities. It’s a unique opportunity,” shared Vanessa Goulart, who is the executive director of the Independent Life Centre.
Cheer on for your country on September 7, 2016, as the Rio Paralympics opens at the Maracana Stadium.
Photo Courtesy: Chris Eason/ Flickr