There was yet another International Paralympic Committee (IPC) press conference in Rio on Friday, but this time the news was more positive. Less than three weeks before the Paralympic Games there were concerns about the ability of the organizing committee to host the Games but today the IPC declared that the Games would go ahead and do so in Rio.
Faced with financial difficulties there were concerns that the Games may have to be moved last minute, or at least see some events dropped. But today the IPC confirmed that the full Games would be able to be staged, despite the organizing committee not meeting their financial commitments.
In the press conference, the IPC president, Sir Philip Craven spoke at length about the Rio Paralympic Games being a catalyst for societal change. That is something that has held true in the past, like in London four years ago, and the first Paralympics in South America (and only the second south of the equator) will no doubt bring rare attention to individuals with an impairment.
Craven did not hide how difficult things have been in the recent weeks when he said “Never before in the 56 year history of the Paralympic Games have we faced circumstances like this.” But he spoke about how every member of the IPC focused all their energy on this success, and it seems those efforts will largely pay off.
The IPC stated that they are confident the travel grants will be paid to the National Paralympic Committees (NPCs). But these payments are now over three weeks late, and so despite the money now being secured, a number of nations may still not be able to send their full delegations because of the delay.
Craven spoke about that issue in the press conference “Currently we have around 10 countries who, even if the grants are paid, may struggle to cover the cost of their travel to the Games. The IPC is working with them to find solutions and ensure their participation here in Rio. We want full participation here. We want all eligible countries to send their athletes to the Games. It’s what the athletes deserve and it is what the athletes want after years of training and dedication,” said Craven.
Part of enabling that money to go to travel grants is enacting some cost saving measures which will see one venue closed. Fencing moves from the Youth Arena (in Deodoro) to Carioca Arena 3 (in Barra) meaning Deodoro can be dismantled making equestrian, football 7-a-side and shooting completely independent venues with their own transport arrangement. While not ideal the IPC is hoping this means the events will have a full complement of athletes attending, meaning the actual athletic performance won’t suffer.