Friday 24 January 2020

Paralympics not under threat - despite cuts

Paralympics Ireland CEO Liam Harbison. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Paralympics Ireland CEO Liam Harbison. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Cliona Foley

Ireland's participation in the Paralympic Games is not under threat, despite revelations the local organisers are making cuts to venues and athlete transport due to lack of funding.

The CEO of Paralympics Ireland, Liam Harbison, said he was relieved that the cutbacks were not more severe.

"We were fearful that the Games would be scaled back," he revealed. "There were rumours that some of the sports might be pulled from the programme at this late stage."

He confirmed that Paralympics Ireland was also worried its transport grant of €65,000 would not be paid, which organisers say they will now honour.

Mr Harbison welcomed yesterday's clarification but said the shortfall in funding, and particularly ticket sales, is "extremely disappointing".

"In our own dealings with Rio 2016 over the past five years there has been a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver," he said.

Rio 2016 has pre-sold only 300,000 tickets (12pc) for the Paralympics, which take place on September 7-18.

"The ticket prices for the Paralympics are very low, ranging from €3-10. In a city with a population of eight to 10 million, to sell only 300,00 to me indicates very poor marketing and that the focus has been on the Olympics.

"It is very disappointing for our athletes that, on the biggest stage of all, it looks like they'll be competing in near empty stadia," Mr Harbison said.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has said the transport grants to national Paralympic committees that were reportedly in jeopardy will now mostly be paid, though 10 countries may not be able to send their teams.

Irish Independent

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