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Paralympics to go ahead amid cash crisis

AAP logoAAP 19/08/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Ten countries may not be able to attend the Paralympics as cash-strapped organisers announce major cutbacks.

However the Games will go ahead with all 22 sports as planned despite low ticket sales and delayed funding, says president of the International Paralympic Committee Sir Philip Craven.

The smaller countries, which haven't been named, are struggling to afford flights to Rio because travel grants that were due to be paid last month still haven't arrived.

Organisers will also close parts of venues, slash staff numbers and scale back transport services in a bid to cut costs.

"Never before in the 56-year history of the Paralympic Games have we faced circumstances like this," Craven said.

The International Paralympic Committee is relying on the Brazilian public purse to bail out the September Games, but a court injunction is preventing the government from handing over any money until the organisers open their books to public scrutiny.

The extra funding has proved a tall order for a nation suffering a deep recession and political crisis.

"We respect the difficulties that have been going on here. But it has to be paid now. The pressure is on. Fix it," Craven said.

Craven also warned the crowds that flocked to stadiums in Beijing in 2008 or London four years later won't rock up to Rio, with only 12 per cent of tickets sold.

Many Brazilians are frustrated with corruption and the misuse of public funding, but Brazilian Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons insists the Games are "not just a sporting event".

"In a country that has 45 million persons with an impairment, spending 250 million real ($A100m) to change the way they are perceived and change their reality is not an expenditure, it's an investment," he said.

Craven rejected suggestions that the Paralympians were being treated as "second-class citizens", drawing on his favourite quote.

"Captain of the Australian women's wheelchair basketball team at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, Donna Ritchie said `Paralympians don't have the time to worry about what doesn't work, they just maximise what does'," he said.

"I can assure you that that's what we're going to do here."

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