Rio 2016 organisers hailed the second most attended Paralympic Games in history as Saturday’s sell-out crowd of 167,675 in the Olympic Park beat the attendance of 157,000 on the busiest day of the Olympics.
Barely a fortnight after organisers were forced to announce cuts to these Games because of a serious budget crisis caused by an apparent lack of interest from locals and the struggling Brazilian economy, the Paralympics came to life on the third day of competition in Rio. It was impossible to buy a ticket in the Olympic Park on Saturday, while a combined crowd of 48,325 attended the morning and evening sessions at the Olympic Stadium.
The financial problems came to light when ticket sales stalled at a paltry 200,000 last month, representing 12% of the available capacity. Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, warned that the Paralympic movement faced the most challenging circumstances in its 56-year history.
Yet affordable pricing and a concerted publicity drive led sales to rise to 1.8m, surpassing the 1.7m sold in Beijing eight years ago. The 2.8m tickets sold at London 2012 remains the figure to beat but Rio organisers are hopeful of meeting their revised target of 2.4m.
There were fears during the buildup that these Games would ruin London’s legacy for disability sport but that could not be further from the truth at the moment. The streets around the Olympic Park were packed with supporters wearing their yellow shirts and waving Brazilian flags, creating a wonderful atmosphere. Volunteers greeted arriving spectators with a smile and there was a positive energy inside the venues.
“Today, as you know, we’re very focused on the fact that we have such a huge crowd, so we reinforced everything around here,” Mario Andrada, Rio 2016’s director of communications, said.”The main attraction is obviously the live site.
“We have got stuff for kids to do on the live site, so they’re very happy. Families are very happy. Thanks to the help of the city of Rio we’re going to have different samba schools playing here at the live site every day.”
Organisers expect a crowd of 157,000 in the Olympic Park on Sunday. Those attending have witnessed some fine sport so far, with 65 world records broken during the first two days of competition. Swimming led the way as 42 world records were broken in the pool, while 14 records were broken in the athletics.
Source: The Guardian